Xbox One, PS4
July 28, 2020
Black Forest Games, Pandemic Studios
Step one: Mix 1/2 cup of “Mars Attacks!”, 1/4 cup of John Water’s “Cry-Baby” and a teaspoon of action-adventure game mechanics and weapons. Step two: Pop in the oven at 220 degrees for 15 years and viola! you’ll have created something that resembles the brilliance that is Destroy All Humans! The game originally released in 2005 and is now remade for modern consoles and PC. The original became a cult classic with 1 million copies sold in under a year of its release. It also spawned three sequels; the most recent being “Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon” in 2008. Though the story hasn’t changed, the graphics have been very much enhanced and 48 new abilities added to upgrade your alien weapons and abilities.
Set in 1959 America, this third-person, semi open-world action-adventure game sees you play as Cryptosporidium-137 (Crypto). He’s an angry little blue Furon alien dude that is furious that one of his alien pals, a former clone of himself, Cryptosporidium-136, has gone missing. Pox, his superior, delivers him to the inferior planet of Earth to try to find 136 and also harvest human brain stems. These brain stems contain alien DNA and they are needed for the Furon to continue to clone themselves and live long and prosper.
Crypto hits the Earth running with Pox instructing him on how best to destroy the puny and subordinate humans. The main aim is to try and uncover all their government secrets whilst also keeping their guns, tanks and massive robot men at bay. With an arsenal of special alien abilities, weapons and a flying saucer, Crypto has a fair advantage over Earthling technology. As you advance throughout the areas of the map of the US and complete missions, your abilities will expand and evolve. You have the Disintegrator Ray that burns off the flesh of your victims leaving only their skeleton. The Zap-O-Matic that electrocutes and leads your victim to scream and vibrate in pain. The Ion Detonator that fires small grenades that can wipe out a ton of them dumb humans. The Anal Probe, my personal favourite, zaps out a green slime-like tendril that attaches to the backsides of the victim and leads their head to explode and a brain stem to pop out like a toy from a gumball machine.
Brain stems are used to level up your abilities, weapons and saucer and can be gained by Brain Extraction (literally blowing off a victim’s head and stealing their delicious, delicious brain) or by completing missions. Each mission has a number of main objectives that have to be completed to progress, but there are also optional missions that are new to the remake. If you complete these optional missions, your final mission score, which is out of 100%, will obviously increase. The higher the score, the more brain stems you acquire and the more cool stuff you can have in your arsenal.
The game sets you up with all that you need to tackle each mission the way you see fit. It does hold your hand a bit, but not enough to give you sweaty palms. The devs obviously see their audience as intelligent enough to experiment with how to approach each task. If it’s not a stealth mission then sure, go in all alien gear a blazing! If you want to go all stealth and transform yourself into an unsuspecting human, then use the Holobob ability to disguise yourself and embody the skin of an NPC. Just be careful though as the Furons haven’t perfected this technology and therefore, you will have to continue to scan the thoughts of NPCs to regenerate your human form.
As someone who appreciates 1950s aesthetics, Destroy All Humans! does a stellar job at capturing the feel of the time. Not only does it include structures that resemble iconic Googie architecture, but it also includes references via human thoughts that only fans of the time period would understand. Such as talking about “Mother’s little helper”, a reference to the rise of depressed housewives taking Valium as a coping mechanism and referencing Elvis, Doris Day and Rock Hudson. The only downside is that Valium wasn’t technically manufactured until at least 1960 and though the NPCs ask “What’s an Elvis?”, the singer was already massively popular by ’59. To mask my disappointing in these inaccuracies, I will have to believe that this is a alternate 1959 and also that Destroy All Humans! is allowed some artistic license!
Missions are controlled from the central spaceship. Here you can access the map where you can choose your mission, upgrade your skills and check through your archives. Missions can be short, and I felt that this sometimes led to the story losing its flow a bit. I wanted to stay in the world of Destroy All Humans! a bit more before being teleported up to Pox and his ability tree. However, on the flip side, it was also cool to gain brain stems from a mission and then use them to upgrade Crypto straight away. This led to my little angsty blue dude being even more powerful when going in to the next battle.
Though most of the missions are completed on foot, when Pox gives you the order to destroy your surroundings, it’s game on and in the spaceship you go! Here you have the ability to Death Ray structures, use sound waves to cause damage via Sonic Boom, and Abduct-O-Beam enemies by picking them up and flinging them into the ether.
The dialogue and the story are all very tongue-in-cheek which fits in nicely with the satirical Earth that Crypto finds himself in. The ability ‘Cortex Scan’ lets Crypto not only refresh his human disguise (Holobob) but also lets him penetrate the inner thoughts of those he is scanning. This dialogue, though repetitive, gives an insight into the minds of NPCs. I was happy to find some queer leaning thoughts, including “My mind says Rock Hudson, but my body says Doris Day!” from one NPC.
The interactions Crypto has with the government, a secret agency called Majestic and regular American citizens points the spotlight on 1950s America. The Space Race. The Cold War. The Red Menace. All these historical moments are lightly scattered throughout the story and the world. Though they are serious events, the game uses satire to show the ridiculous side of the fear that gripped American citizens and how this terror was mainly fueled by politicians and the media. Characters such as the fast-talking head of the Army, the fumbling Mayor, and the black suit/hat/tie mustached secret agents of Majestic are all obviously stereotypes of the American government and their officials. The only thing that felt a bit off to me is during the cutscenes the character graphics, up close, looked a bit rough. It took away from the feel of the game, but as soon as the gameplay started, it was back to looking gorgeous again – especially the landscape and architecture which just popped with colour and life.
If you need a break from the storyline or have finished all the main missions there are heaps for you to explore by revisiting areas of the map. The map has six areas with four challenges per area (for those of you who suck at math, that’s twenty-four challenges all up!). The four on each area include Armageddon where you use your saucer to absorb allocated vehicles, Abduction that tasks you with throwing certain objects into an abduction beam, Race where you have to catch a drone as quickly as you can and Rampage where you kill all the humans whilst on foot. Each rank your performance out of three stars and are timed challenges.
As a newcomer to the wacky world of Destroy All Humans!, I very much enjoyed embodying the aggressive Crypto who was disgusted at the ignorant, sloppy behaviour of human beings. Through his eyes, humans are seen as simple, boring and only worth keeping alive to gain information. Therefore with this view of humans in mind, I had a blast wrecking their world, blowing them to smithereens and doing so with a big grin and a “hell yeah!”
- Fun, easy combat
- 1950s aesthetics are used extremly well
- Humorous storyline and characters
- Comical and powerful weapons and abilities
- Lets players have freedom to complete missions their way
- Short missions sometimes break up the flow of the main story
- Human graphics are disappointing
Destroy All Humans! is a wild ride in a wild world whilst playing as a wild little alien dude. Its themes really resonate with the America that may have been unfathomable when it was released in 2005 but is so scarily accurate now. Many may play this and see the warning signs of what was to become of the US; especially seeing as “fake news” is so prevalent throughout the game.
What I love so much about this game is that you can dig deeper if you want to. It gives the player the freedom to simply go in, blow people up, cruise around in your spaceship and literally destroy all the things. Or, you can get your serious hat on and read deeper into the satirical nature of the human enemies and thoughts of the NPCs. Destroy All Humans! is similar to adult cartoons such as The Simpsons – the message is there if you look for it, but it’s perfectly ok for you to just zone out, be an angry little alien and blow the crap out of everything and everyone.
Destroy All Humans! is a game that serves up high energy 1950s alien invasion realness. For me it ticked all the right boxes – fun, imaginative storyline, freedom to play the game in different ways and satirical humor. Throw in a good helping of 1950s architecture and culture, and this gaymer girl couldn’t help but love every second of this crazy space ride.