Too Human First Look Pt 1 (XBox 360)

When Too Human released to pretty horrible reviews last summer, it seemed there was more talk going on about Silicon Knight’s Dennis Dyack trying to socially engineer scores than there was about the game itself. I remember downloading the demo, feeling pretty “Meh” about it, and then forgetting all about the game.

Over the past week, someone I follow on Twitter ( has been playing and enjoying the game *a lot*. Whenever I see someone really enjoying a game that got bad reviews, I get intrigued. And it so happened that I’ve been casting about looking for a good loot-centric hack&slash action-rpg to play, and that’s exactly what Too Human is. And the nice thing about picking up a poorly reviewed game 6 months or so after release is that you can get it for cheap. Target has it in the discount bin for $20, but I couldn’t find it in my local store and didn’t want to wait to mail order it, so I hit Best Buy and picked it up for $40.

At this point my played time is around 6 hours and my first character (a Berserker — melee focused, low armor) is level 17 or thereabouts, and so far I’m in SAGExSDX’s camp: I’m having a good time playing this game. I’ve gone back and read some of the reviews and they all feel pretty vague to me when it comes to explaining why they gave it such low ratings, and I can’t help wonder how much the controversy and expectations shaped the review rating landscape.

But again I’m only 6 hours in.

Gameplay is a nice combination of Diable-style kill/loot/level and a fast paced action game (think Shinobi, or if you don’t remember that one, Devil May Cry). Melee attacks are mapped to the right thumbstick; push the stick towards an enemy and you’ll charge it and attack. If you push it towards another enemy before you reach the one you’re sliding towards, you’ll combo off to that next enemy. Pretty soon you’re a human pinball of death. Or you can leap into the air and come crashing down. Or double tap the stick to juggle the enemies into the sky. Pushing both sticks in the same direction unleashes a “fierce” attack, which is, oddly enough, a ranged attack pulled off with melee weapons.

The trigger buttons are used for firing ranged weapons. You also have a little spider bot “pet” that you can use as a debuff, and a Ruiner attack that trades combo level for a potent area-of-attack, the style of which depends on the weapons you have equipped.

I’d be lying if I said combat was all about pin-point precision. The controls are more visceral than precise, but since fights tend to be about 10+ enemies vs you and some wimpy underlings, that doesn’t matter too much. Too Human is about wading into swarms of baddies and sending them all flying.

And these baddies (all of which are robots, which pleases me — I’m not a huge fan of over-the-top gore and body parts flying) are definitely monster pinatas. Looting is automagic…stuff just kind of gets sucked into your backpack. At any time you can “Salvage” gear, turning it into Bounty (the game’s currency) so there’s never a need to head home to sell vendor trash. In fact, you can set an ‘auto-salvage’ setting so that a particular level of item you pick up gets turned into Bounty, or use a “Smart” setting that will salvage the worst gear you’re carrying if your inventory fills up. These are really nice features that keep you focused on the action and not on inventory space.

When you die, rather than having to reload a saved game, a Valkyrie floats down to whisk you off to Valhalla. But then I guess she changes her mind because you’ll respawn close to where you fell. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about this system, but I love it. As an MMO player, I really don’t like save/load systems; they break me out of the world I’m playing in. But the rebirth cut-scene is long enough to feel like a death penalty (your gear also takes an endurance hit and will have to be repaired if you die often enough — I speak from experience) without being overly onerous.

If you find you’re dying just a bit too often, you can head back to your HQ (that’s a menu option, you can do it from anywhere) and from there, teleport to an earlier level to replay it and level up a bit. These earlier levels seem to scale somewhat. So at character level 15 I went back to the first game level for a bit of grindy fun, and it was still a light challenge for me, vs the total walk-through that I’d expected it would be. Again, the focus is on keeping you gaming, earning new gear and new levels, and not about a lot of pointless running around.

Anyway, I’ll say for the third time, I’m only 6 hours in. But so far I’ve been having a blast. In my next post I’ll look at some of the downsides. I’d like to get to 12-15 hours before I post again, so it could take me a few days.