Saturday, April 14, 2012
Too Human: 50 Hours Later
I wrote a blog a while back about my time with Too Human. I liked the game. I realized that the game is a deeply flawed one, but I enjoyed it to a degree, regardless. I thought after finally having beaten the game, that I was done with it. I was ready to put it on the shelf and in all likelihood never play it again. But I didn't stop; I continued to play much longer than I'd ever have anticipated. I have played Too Human for about 50 hours across several different characters. I'm still trying to grapple with that confounding reality.
There's kind of a lot to this game. Dennis Dyack and his team at Silicon Knights spent years crafting this experience, and while the end result is ultimately very disappointing, there are still lots of interesting kernels of ideas that continued to take shape for me as I played entirely too much of this game.
The rune/charm system is the part of the game that took me the longest to be able to comprehend. Ultimately I was forced to scour wikis and forums to fully understand these systems, but once I did, I realized that they actually make up a pretty cool part of the game--and one that I had not explored at all through my first two playthroughs.
So there are runes and charms. Runes give bonuses to weapons and armor when inserted into slots; fairly strait forward. Charms, on the other hand, are fairly complex and cool. Each charm has a sort of mini side-quest attached to it--something like kill 20 enemies in the air. Once the charm's quest is completed, you then have to insert the required runes into the charm in order to unlock its ability. There are three levels of charms, and as you stumble across higher level charms, the mini quests become harder and the required runes more rare; however, the reward becomes much greater. It's a really interesting system that actually becomes vital to the experience when you start to approach level 50 (which takes about three playthroughs). Sadly, the impenetrable fashion in which this stuff is presented means that the impact of it is completely lost with the majority of players. I mean, if you don't really need to use runes and charms during your first and even second playthroughs, then who in their right mind is going to play this game long enough to actually care? Oh, right.
My first character was a Champion class. This is the balanced class that is selected by default when creating a character. This character absorbed the majority of my time with the game, clocking in at about 35 hours. Little did I know, the melee-focused class, the Berserker, is way more fun! At least for me. Shooting dudes is fine, but unless you really aim to spec a character for ranged damage, guns are largely useless a lot of the time. Forgetting about guns entirely with the Berserker class was what I should have gone with from the start. Melee combat is much snappier and a lot more fun. Berserker Baldur is much quicker and more agile. He even feels more responsive because of the quicker attacks; Champion Baldur feels very slow and unresponsive by comparison. I played through this game a lot, and I wish I'd done it with a character class that was more exciting.
After having beaten the game probably about five times now, I wish it were longer. Maybe it's just that I played through it so many times in such a short spurt, but it quickly becomes apparent that that game is short, and simple. You make your way through room after room, doing almost the exact same things over and over, and before you know it, you've beaten it again. But there's still levels to be gained! Loot to be had! You go back in, and five hours later, credits. The game becomes quicker and quicker with each successive playthrough as you learn all the little tricks and just begin to plow through it.
The one element that extends the game is cyberspace. Ironically, Cyberspace is the lush forest land that you travel to within the game--mostly in order to affect the real world in order to advance. Cyberspace is also good for collecting loot, as there are dozens of "chests" to pillage and plunder. The thing about Cyberspace after you've finished the game is that all of the areas that are supposed to be blocked off at the beginning of a playthrough are open on a new game plus. This means that every time you restart the game, if you want to get the nice loot you're looking for, you'd better take a couple of hours (literally hours) running around every area of Cyberspace the first chance you get. This is so incredibly boring, but it's also one of the better ways to pick up a bunch of awesome blueprints, runes, and other loot, so you do it. You pocket your shame of the time you're wasting on this dumb game, and you do it.
A welcome break from the grind over my 50 hours was the game's multiplayer. I eventually got to a point where I was burning out, and I decided to try jumping into someone else's game. With only two player support, I'm not going to say that the experience was amazing, but it was certainly interesting. I pursued a couple of multiplayer achievements and had some fun. I have a feeling that this game could be a lot of fun playing with a friend, but I don't have any friends who would play Too Human. And thank god for that, because they'd clearly be terrible people.
There's something about Too Human, and I don't know what exactly it is. It's the same feeling I have when I play a Dynasty Warriors game: I don't really like what I'm doing in the game, but there's something oddly satisfying about mindlessly slashing your way through hordes of enemies. If there's anything I can say after playing Too Human for 50 hours, it's this: Don't do it. Don't play Too Human for 50 hours. There is no reason to. There's no payoff. There's no sense of satisfaction. There's just the guilt of having played an--ultimately--kind of bad game, for entirely too long.