Humanity [PS5 (Reviewed), PS4, PlayStation VR, PC]
Developer: Enhance Games
Publisher: Enhance Games
Released: May 16, 2023
Humanity, the latest puzzle game from developers Enhance Games (Tetris Effect, Rez Infinite), arrived on PS5, PSVR2 and PC this week to much praise. And deservedly so.
It’s been described as a modern-day Lemmings. Like Lemmings, Humanity has you guiding a group around obstacles to reach an exit. But to say that it’s just a modern Lemmings would be to sell it short.
Humanity is its own thing, a unique experience highlighted with simple controls but an expanded complexity. To put it simply, it’s the best puzzle-strategy game in quite some time.
The gist of the game is simple. You control a dog that has to lead a bunch of humans into the light.
To get the straight walking humans to the light, you’re going to have to bark to issue commands to them. Different levels have different commands, but for the most part the most used command is Turn.
Dropping a turn command will have the humans turn and walk at that point in whatever direction you commanded them. Just that one command can get cleverly complicated.
There are also commands for jumping, high jumping and long jumping. A float command used before a jump command will allow the humans to jump and float long distances and thus survive falls that otherwise would kill them.
Halfway through the story, and yes there is a story (mainly just a reason to progress through the different trials), you’ll encounter a group of humans known as The Others.
At first, you just have to lead your humans to capturing the Goldy (the giant gold human) and escaping. The Others want the Goldy too. Eventually though, The Others take up arms against your group. From there, your humans can get clubs and firearms, and then you go to war against The Others.
What Humanity does right is variety.
In the campaign, you begin in the Prologue which has six levels. This is essentially a tutorial. From there you have seven Sequences, each containing a number of Trials (or levels) that you have to do to progress and a few optional Trials to undertake as well. In between some sequences, you have boss fights of sorts, of which there are four.
In total, counting the Prologue, there are 90 puzzles to solve in the game. That’s a lot, and Enhance Games managed to make each one fresh and unique. Some are simple, some are quite hard, and others are deviously simple but appear way harder at first glance.
If at any point you have trouble with a particular level, you needn’t hit up YouTube. You can pause the game and watch the solution to the puzzle right there. It won’t show you how to gather the optional Goldies, but it will show you the solution to the base puzzle.
Thankfully, there is no time limit and you can try and reset as many times as you need without any sort of penalties.
I completed all 90 Trials, collected all 81 Goldy, had a total of 204 retries, watch one solution video, and got the Platinum trophy in 17 hours and 46 minutes.
If you make it through all 90 Trials, then you obviously enjoyed the game and the delightful puzzles.
Which means there’s PLENTY more to do.
Where Humanity shines in replayability is the fact that you, and everyone else, can create your own puzzle stages. If you’re the creative type, and smart enough to create a good puzzle, you can spend untold hours creating stages and letting others to figure them out.
If you’re not into creating, well there’s a ton of user created stages waiting for you to tackle. I’ve completed a few and they’ve been good. A few easy, a couple I would say hard, but most that I’ve played have been about right.
I will say there’s one called The Box that has defeated me. It seems simple, but you’re limited in the number of Turn commands you can issue in it to 10. If it were 11, I’d have it, but I’ve spent over an hour and still haven’t figured it out yet. I take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone; that particular player created stage is listed as Hard and has a 3.84% completion rate. Unfortunately, but also a good thing I guess, there is no Watch Solution for created stages.
This one will continue to have me racking my brain until I finally conquer it. Already, I’ve spent more time on it than any of the official levels (and quite a few of those took me a while). In writing this review, I returned to this level and after just five minutes of walking through it, finally completed it. Fresh eyes after a long break really helped.
Because Humanity was put in the PlayStation Plus Game Catalog for Extra and Premium subscribers on day one, the game has a pretty good population of players which means there’s already more than enough player created stages to keep you busy. And with more constantly being created, you’ll never run out of puzzles to solve.
I checked out Humanity simply because it was a Day One title on PS Plus. I’m not a big puzzle guy, but Humanity drew me in. I didn’t know what exactly to expect, but it blew me away. I started playing it Thursday, and I had it completed with the platinum trophy Sunday night.
It totally sucked me in. Most games have become rather mindless, Humanity is anything but. Put on your thinking cap and solve Humanity’s problems. The satisfaction of completing the more challenging levels, without watching the solution, is wonderful and a little addictive. This screams casual game, but “just one more puzzle” will end up being another whole sequence even if it takes two hours.
If you enjoy puzzle and strategy games, and want to do some critical thinking, Humanity is a game that you owe it to yourself to play. The $30 price is just right for this type of game, although you’ll likely get more hours out of it than many of the big AAA titles that cost $40 more.
PS Plus Extra and Premium subscribers though, there’s simply no reason to not at least try it while it’s available to you free in the Game Catalog.
Humanity is an absolute delight, oddly charming, and I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s one of the best games I’ve played this year.
Humanity gets a four out of five: GREAT.