With one caveat which we’ll come to later, the production design of To Human is incredible. The sci-fi Norse theme permeates everything from armour styles to creature design to the huge scale architecture. It’s not quite as good as the work David Jaffe and Sony Santa Monica pulled off with God of War 1 and 2, but a lot of time it’s awfully close, and there is more than one moment where you can see that Dyack and Silicon Knights are thinking on a scale every bit as big.
Sadly, the game’s downfall comes in the most crucial area of all: its gameplay. Now, lets be clear that there are a lot of really good things about Too Human. The combat system, for example, is nearly as innovative and effective as Dyack says it is; instead of mashing the face buttons to pull of combos as you do in most dungeon crawlers, you attack by flicking or holding the right analogue stick in the direction of your nearest foe.
At first, this seems counter-intuitive, but the more you play and the more powerful Baldur gets, the more his sliding tackles, machine-juggling slams and brutal slice-and-dice manouvres take on a real grace and potency. Too Human’s fighting might not be good enough to take on action blockbusters like God of War or Devil May Cry 4, but it’s certainly better than battering the X button over and over again as you do in some comparable titles.
The RPG elements are also richer than you might have been led to expect. True, the class system doesn’t add that much to the single-player experience, but you do get some fairly comprehensive skill trees, a choice of two alignments with tangible differences between them and a genuinely vast selection of weapons, armour and blueprints with which you can craft new ones. Not only can you choose which sword to swing or which breastplate or shoulder guards to fit, but you can customise them further with runes, adding extra bonuses to your weapon or armour piece of choice.
However, the game could have done with a little streamlining in this respect. At first the inventory and crafting screens seem incredibly convoluted. Worse, there’s no real introduction on how to use them. Then you’ll note that you’re picking up new arms and armour at a bewildering rate, which not only makes selecting the optimum bits for your class and character tricky, but also makes each new weapon or upgrade found feel a little less special. After all, if you don’t like this sword or hammer/shield combo, another will be along in a couple of minutes. There are times, too, when you wish the game would throw in a couple of tutorial sections. The combat system, for a start, is never adequately explained, which can make the game seem like a simple hack-and-slash game when it’s slightly more intelligent than that.
Only slightly, because there is a very heavy emphasis on brawling here and an awful lot of repetition. You’ll find yourself constantly blasting and battering your way through the same groups of monsters, with minor variations, over and over and over and over again. To make this worse, there’s not a level I’ve played that hasn’t gone on way past its welcome.
You grow tired of the same old creatures and the same old architecture. You see another group of monsters in the distance and just sigh – here we go again – then hope that the next one will be the one that leads you to the climactic boss battle. This is not a good thing, and it can make Too Human feel less like the complete first chapter in a trilogy and more like an over-sized starter that spoils your appetite for the main course.