‘Destroy All Humans! Remake’ review: a neat package of a bygone era

Black Forest Games’ loving homage of this 2005 relic is worth its weight in nostalgia

Before you start playing Destroy All Humans! Remake, the game provides an important disclaimer about its content. “While the experience has been upgraded, the content and historical record of the original invasion of the Furons remains a near-identical clone,” the statement reads. “The story, words and images contained within may be shocking to the modern human brain!”

Framing this important statement in an aloof fashion doesn’t do the game’s more ignorant jokes any favours, but nonetheless, I appreciated the warning. Playing through the first few levels, I quickly learned that the original 2005 script of Destroy All Humans! does not fit our 2020 sensibilities, but it has been left untouched in order to service a remake of the game for modern platforms.

While its satiric jabs at American politics are as relevant and biting as ever, it does lean on schoolyard humour in between its story beats, serving up jokes that may sour the nostalgia for some when you scan the minds of the game’s inhabitants.

Destroy All Humans! Remake
Destroy All Humans! Remake. Credit: Black Forest Games

I was 10 when I first played Destroy All Humans! on the PlayStation 2 and naturally oblivious to what the NPCs were referring to when they brought up “Don’t ask, don’t tell” – but now that I’m an adult, said jokes feel crass. If anything, the remake serves as an important reminder of how far we’ve come – or indeed, how far we still have left to go.

Yet beyond its questionable tact, the game is an enjoyable romp through the design traits of a bygone era, especially if you were fond of the original series. This style of 3D action platformer has definitely had its day, and to be honest, the game does do a good job of reminding you why that is.

But it’s a serious novelty to play something as delightfully silly as Destroy All Humans! in 2020, and Black Forest Games’ commitment to providing an authentic remake is admirable. Unfortunately for the newcomers, I imagine acclimating to its old mission design traits isn’t such an appealing process.

Destroy All Humans! Remake
Destroy All Humans! Remake. Credit: Black Forest Games

It’s certainly fun to start with – stopping groups of enemies in their tracks with the Zap-O-Matic is still an unmatched blast of endorphins. Navigation is exquisite, with Crypto’s jetpack feeling authentic in the way it glides around the map, waning with careful momentum. One of my favourite of the game’s many unlockable abilities lets Crypto glide across the ground, carving through the air on an invisible hoverboard, which made the optional Race side missions a blast.

But when the missions start to grow in complexity, the novelty inevitably wears off in tandem. I began ignoring groups of enemies in favour of the mission criteria to get them over with, and found myself frustrated with the game’s many forced stealth sections, which run counter to the manic fun the rest of the package provides.

If I remember correctly, the Holobob system that lets Crypto impersonate other humans is fleshed out in later games, but in the original Destroy All Humans! (and now this remake), you feel powerless and bored in someone else’s skin. It feels very bare, and it’s something that newcomers will no doubt tire of.

However, I loved wrapping up the extra content in the several sandboxes that Crypto can explore outside of the story, but beyond said side missions (which all follow a similar formula throughout each zone) there’s not much else to do.

Destroy All Humans! Remake
Destroy All Humans! Remake. Credit: Black Forest Games

Thankfully, the game is quite a neat little package that you can wrap up in around six or seven hours. It doesn’t drag or cloy in any particular spot thanks to some brilliantly crafted cutscenes, clips with quips that bookend the missions and pull you through its outrageous story. Yet sadly, the objectives do start to grate as the game throws more and more enemies at the player in place of any thoughtful difficulty spikes.

My favourite missions occurs when the game leans into the absurd to breathe life into the tired traits of its mission design. One of the best comes near the end in “Furon Filibuster”, where you have to stop hordes of senators from reaching the Capitol Building. It’s basic wave defence, but at least it’s a laugh, and it stands the test of time as a result.

Destroy All Humans! Remake
Destroy All Humans! Remake. Credit: Black Forest Games

The remake’s character design and animation work also deserve much praise. Black Forest Games has taken great care to upscale the assets of the original without losing its inimitable style – and the same passion has been brought to the ancient sound design and voice-acting, which has been cleaned up to great effect in the 2020 remake.

For the completionists among us, each mission has optional objectives, and there are tons of probes to be found in every open-world map. Ultimately, they only lead to a few cosmetic skins and some concept art, but if you’re a die-hard fan these are welcome additions!

‘Destroy All Humans! Remake’ will be released on July 28 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Google Stadia.

Our Verdict

Destroy All Humans! Remake definitely doesn’t detract from the 2005 original in any capacity. In fact, it’s fair to say it’s the definitive version of the game. Black Forest Games has doled out plenty of care in its loving homage to the original. It’s actually the limits of the original game’s design that struggle to hold true against our modern expectations, which may make you temper your purchase as a newcomer.

It feels more like a remastered port than a full-blown remake, but for the die-hard fans among us looking for a nostalgia bump, you’re in safe hands. Destroy All Humans! Remake is a neat package of novelty nostalgia, for better and for worse.

Pros

  • A loving recreation of a mid noughties classic
  • The 2005 gameplay has been properly tuned up for modern consoles
  • An absurd story and plenty of silly missions provide heaps of novelty

Cons

  • The mission design is authentic to the original, and might be grating to newcomers
  • The remake lacks any meaningful additions to make it replayable
  • The script is dated, which may sour some of your nostalgiaThe script is dated, which may sour some of your nostalgia
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