Destroy All Humans is a third-person action game available on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Joseph Pugh conducted this review on a standard Xbox One console.
As bonkers as 2020 has been, many people have Alien Invasion on their worst year ever bingo card. Behold! We have one in the form of Destroy All Humans! Pray that it is the only one.
Destroy All Humans is actually a remastered version of the original game that released in 2005. It was rebuilt from the ground up and probed with enhancements, but it is still the same game. I never played the original, so I came into Destroy All Humans with a fresh perspective, for better or worse.
You play as Crypto a little mean-looking alien called a Furon. Each Furon is a clone, and each clone suffers DNA degradation. Crypto’s predecessor had a little mishap and found himself in the hands of the primitive humans, and now Crypto has to go to earth, find his sibling, collect DNA, and possibly Destroy All Humans.
You control Crypto from the third person and take part in a variety of missions where you blow up, disintegrate, and manipulate the human race. In between the carnage you can buy new upgrades for Crypto or his Saucer with DNA you have collected. You can also unlock open-world hubs to mess around in.
Tickling the funny bone.
The writing is humorous and the voice acting delivery is spot on. Destroy All Humans isn’t at all a serious game, it’s full of tropes and stereotypes set in the 1950’s. The game was written 15 years ago, and things have changed a bit since then, the game warns you about the writing upfront.
It can be edgy, but I don’t think many will find it outright offensive and I spent a lot of time chuckling at the sheer stupidity of some of it. When I laughed out loud at Crypto exclaiming “but they’re covered in nipples!” when referring to a cow. I realized my maturity may not, in fact, match my age.
Most of the humor is directed at adults though. Cars rocked suspiciously outside of a county fair and the first time I lifted a cop with Psychokinesis he yelled about feeling powerless and that it was hot. I may have immediately thrown him hundreds of feet in the air to his death. What? Aliens are allowed to kink shame!
At one point I had disguised as the mayor of a town and had to give a speech to a bunch of country folks and I was presented with a bunch of choices about what to say. I channeled the orange dusted spirit of the current US president and chose the most outlandish answers possible.
It totally worked! I’m not sure if I should be entertained or frightened that fifteen-year-old tongue in cheek satire imitates present-day reality. There is a lot of political humor in the game too. You can read the thoughts of humans nearby like in Watch Dogs except that game was still a glint in Ubisoft’s eye When Destroy All Humans was conceived.
Each mission presents you with an objective and for the most part, the missions are pretty rigid. One mission might have you stealing the form of a human with your holo-blob and sneaking in somewhere restricted, others might have you bouncing from roof to roof and adjusting antennas to brainwash the populace. They are straight forward, you simply do what the game tells you too. Sometimes to the point that they barely feel interactive.
Most of the time, things will descend into chaos at some point and you will need to get violent. As you complete missions you are drip-fed new abilities and you can upgrade old ones with DNA points that you earned.
Crypto has an interesting arsenal. He can pick up objects and people with telekinetics using psychokinesis and throw them. I’m a sucker for telekinesis in games and it’s pretty effective by itself. It isn’t that satisfying though, nothing in the world feels like it has any weight or impact, from people to objects or even cars.
It feels like you are just tossing around dolls and toys, and not in a good way. Admittedly it is fun to catch grenades and missiles in mid-air and use them against the puny humans.
You also get a shock ray, disintegrator, plasma grenade launcher, and of course, the anal probe. They all have amusing and cartoonish effects. The disintegrator will turn people to ashes while the anal probe sends them running holding their butts.
You can upgrade all of it, but only the Zap O Matic recharges, the rest need ammo. You can transmogrify objects into random clips of ammo but it was honestly kind of clunky. I opted to use the Zap O Matic and Psychokinesis most of the time to avoid the hassle of it.
The same principle applies to the Saucer. I think the ability to move from on-foot-gameplay to a Flying Saucer is really neat. But it suffered from the same issue. While it is much easier to transmogrify objects in the saucer I ended up using the default laser most of the time.
This is at least partially due to the fact that the game really isn’t challenging. Enemies just charge at you and you obliterate them. I spent DNA on upgrades, but passively, I never felt the need to go and collect extra to upgrade my abilities. I progressed just fine without them.
The destruction is fun for a time, in a mindless way. Things explode, bodies fly and buildings can be destroyed with your Saucer. Picking up a tank with your tractor beam and flinging it can be amusing. But the game gets repetitive very quickly and the novelty wears off.
Crypto can also disguise himself as a human, but the stealth aspect is very shallow. It’s as simple being able to access certain areas as specific human types and keeping your holo-blob recharged by reading the minds of people. You don’t get much benefit from doing it outside of missions where you automatically fail if you don’t.
A mini open world
As you progress you unlock locations that you can go back and explore on your own. Each of these hubs has a very different flavor which is nice. From the good old country full of barns and cows to the city of Santa Modesta.
Each one contains several hidden probes you can collect for extra DNA and some side missions you can play. From races to pure destruction, they are a nice distraction and a good way to afford that next upgrade you want, but they are pretty shallow. The hubs themselves can be entertaining sandboxes to goof around in though.
The more chaos you cause the more heat gets sent your way, starting with police and progressing to tanks, mechs, and other enemies. Like the rest of the game, your mileage will vary depending on how easily you are entertained by mindless carnage. The concept of being an Alien is cool but underwhelming and I think that is purely due to the game’s age.
Some games are timeless, unfortunately, I don’t think Destroy All Humans is one of them. Despite not playing the original I instantly felt that I was playing a 15-year-old game, in spite of the upgrades.
I think 15 years ago I would have been in awe, and maybe it could have held its own during the start of this console generation. But as we near its end, Destroy All Humans feels dated.
It isn’t bad perse, it just doesn’t feel good to play either. Everything works, it’s pretty, it’s just not entertaining for very long. The humor is great but that alone can’t carry it.
I think if you had actually played the original, you may appreciate this upgrade on your walk down nostalgia lane. As a newcomer, it just has no proper place to sit beside the games that exist today and there is no room for it on the shelf. It can be an amusing romp, but you kick up the dust of this Dinosaur at every turn, and the new can of paint just can’t hide that fact.
A copy of the game was provided for Gideon’s Gaming by THQ via Terminals.io for the purpose of review.
You might also enjoy my review of Attack of the Earthlings.
- The dialogue and overall theme of the game is humorous and entertaining
- Being able to swap from on foot to flying saucer is pretty nifty
- Hub worlds you can freely explore and goof off in
- The destructible environment is nice
- The world and its inhabitants feel weightless and floaty
- The AI is dull
- The combat is dry and gets repetitive quickly
- The whole experience feels incredibly dated and repetitious
- Lack of challenge and very little reason to upgrade your arsenal
- Acquiring ammo is clunky