If you start dividing a game into its constitutive elements, you carefully place them in an excel file, beautifully organized in distinct categories, with sorting options and accurate values, presented on the “known only to me scale of awesomeness”, self arranged via pivot tables, color coded, with advanced functions helping it mine it’s data from other sheets, pie charts, conditional formatting, data validation checkboxes and… I forgot what I wanted to say.
If you take anything, a car, a cat, anything, you break it in 16 pieces and grade each part separately you can have the not so pleasant surprise of finding out that the overall evaluation is quite low, although the poor furball is a devoted, soft and furry companion. Where’s the logic in that?
Gamers are a strange breed of people, living in such an Excel file, which has the only function of dividing the poor cat in pieces. On the “hack and slash” sheet, every checkbox has been inspired by Diablo. The randomization element, the loot table, the extended replay value, multiplayer, PvP… the lot. Now, here comes a new hack and slash RPG, let’s call it “Bob” (or Too Human),so you create a new sheet and start comparing, only to find out that the campaign is in under 15 hours long, the aiming system is “broken” and the overall experience is not fun just because I say so!
Stupid remarks aside, the Internet, symbolized in this case by a fatidic 6.5 score on Metacritic, has kept me from this game for almost a year, although I was initially quite interested in what it had to offer. Still, by chance, I did get around to playing it, and after that, I got pissed, not because the game is bad, but because I actually believed what the Internet had to say. Which is ironic, considering that you’re now doing the exact same thing.
I believe a hack & slash RPG becomes desirable the moment you’re offered a constant motivation to keep playing it, although you already beat the game 2 weeks ago. It’s unlikely the devs will be able to generate new content at a fast enough pace (not even MMOs can do it), so the entire “replay value” thing is left on the shoulders of other “tricks” meant to keep the player engaged in what he’s doing. A decent itemization is a good start. A nice and complex skill tree can also help. And some “random” level design formula would also be very, very nice.
Well, Too Human doesn’t have random generated levels, nor a complex skill tree, or a million levels you can blast your way through. Quite the contrary, the main storyline can be finished in under said 15 hours, there is no “Nightmare” or “Hell” difficulty level, and it even has the audacity of presenting you with the same enemies over and over again, with no noticeable differences between playthroughs, other than the fact that monster X is slightly more resistant to “stuff”, and he’s orange instead of green.
Not a very friendly start for the Excel file. Enough to justify low scores across the board, I think, and what do you know, that’s exactly what happened. Still, what about the rest of the game? I believe, for example, that the storyline and universe are an important part of any game world, and on this front Too Human delivers quite well. It has a good storyline, with plenty of nicely done cut scenes, based on Norse mythology “IN THE FUTURE”, with a distinct cyberpunk feel to it, with the Norse gods presented as highly evolved creatures, based on advanced technology, and protectors of mankind.
Although the locations and main characters should be known by anyone who has bothered to read a book in his life, and the series of events are nothing new for those who know how one “triggers” Ragnarok, the storyline manages to stay fresh for the entire length of the game, and it even manages to give a very “badass” feel to its characters (including yours), while actually talking to Thor, seeing Loki, and bowing when Odin speaks.
The most remarkable thing is that the entire storyline doesn’t feel awkward, stupid, or anything else. It makes sense, the entire universe makes sense, and a lot of the mythos are decently explained given the game’s “future” concept. The storyline does start a bit on the slow side, but it’s worth watching (and enjoying) until the game rolls the credits list.
Moving on, the main reason a lot of hack & slash RPG missed the path Diablo 2 had already beaten was the loot system. It was either too random, too weak, the drops were too rare, or it just plain sucked. In Too Human however, half of the time you’ll spend in game will be dedicated to the inventory and loot management. The loot table is carefully thought out, per level, per class, per rarity. The drops are plentiful, the gear is useful, it looks great, it has logical and helpful stats and most importantly, it gives you the motivation to keep going, assuming of course this type of gameplay attracts you.
You can build your own gear using blueprints, you can enchant it using runes, you have charms which need to be “built” in order to activate their stats, there’s a ton of weapon types, melee or ranged, and a plethora of different armor types. Normal, rare, epic, or legendary. So, to sum it up, the loot is great: it keeps you going and makes you want to get better stuff, while constantly receiving feedback from it, from both a visual and a utility point of view.