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Humanity Hands-On Preview (PS5) – PlayStation Universe goes hands-on with the latest game from the creators of Rez: Infinite and Tetris Effect. Find out if Humanity can guide the puzzle genre to salvation in our preview.
Humanity Hands-On Preview (PS5) – Follow The Shiba
Rez Infinite and Tetris Effect are two games I would call transcendent. There’s something about them that elevates them to an experience rather than games. I’m genuinely not digging into hyperbole when I say the end of Tetris Effect in VR with headphones on felt like a spiritual awakening.
That’s a heavy weight to place on the next game from this studio, so it’s no surprise it has shifted the goalposts with Humanity.
The basic premise of Humanity is ‘What if Lemmings was made by the creators of Rez Infinite?’ and frankly that sold me. Even if I was a tiny bit concerned this wouldn’t be my kind of thing like the studio’s previous games were. Oh how wrong I was.
You control someone that has been transformed into a small glowing white dog (a Shiba Inu to be precise). The Shiba Inu must lead an endless stream of humanity to a goal in order to ‘save’ them.
You do this mainly by ‘barking’ directions for them to travel, and later, barking instructions such as ‘jump’ to clear certain obstacles.
They don’t die if you send them off an edge by accident like in Lemmings. Instead, they return to the door they entered through and start again. So the stream of people coming out of that door is just one big loop.
It’s a smart move because frankly, I don’t think I could have handled the stress of watching a bunch of people plummet into oblivion because I barked in the wrong direction.
An Unexpected Journey
Each stage is contained in a sterile-looking diorama. A cube space in which to fit all the moving and non-moving parts. That doesn’t prevent a bit of verticality in these stages. And while the initial levels are basic Humanity 101 lessons, more quirks and kinks are added to the setup as you progress.
Also, the mystery behind why you, a dog, are leading hordes of humanity through these levels, to begin with, is slowly uncovered in a manner very typical of a THA/Enhance game.
Before long, you’ll be leading the humans over large gaps, bodies of water, and large walls as you seek the perfect route through to the end. Whilst the humans are safe whatever, there are special entities called ‘Goldys’ you can pick up to help unlock levels and other things further on.
These bigger gold figures need to come into contact with the humans to start walking their path. If they fall off an edge, you lose them for good (unless you restart/retry).
This is where the extra layer comes into the challenge. Humanity’s puzzles are pretty fun to ponder and ever so satisfying to figure out, but trying to do that and get the Goldys in the same run adds some extra spice to the recipe.
Humanity is a change of direction for THA and Enhance, but there’s something about it that undeniably feels like it’s from that group of beautifully mad people.
I suppose the connecting factor is the almost ethereal dreamlike state it exists in and brings out in you. It’s easy to argue Humanity requires a bit more thinking than REZ or Tetris Effect, but the way this game plays out is not too dissimilar to the trancelike loop those games have.
And as with those games, I think the cherry in the cocktail is VR support. It’s not essential to play Humanity in VR, but it is undeniable that it adds that special something that dragged the previous games into that almost religious place. In VR, you get that sweet God view.
The one that makes you feel so powerful in games such as Cities VR and Townsmen. It’s akin to watching lab rats solve a maze.
Except you’re tripping heavily enough to think the rats are actually a dog and a bunch of people doing a weird parallel universe Crufts performance. Playing stone-cold sober still gave me that feeling, such is the magic that THA weaves.
Humanity also features player-created levels thanks to its Stage Creator. With this relatively simple set of tools, you can add your own vision to the game. It’s promising, but definitely needs a bigger player pool to open up the creative possibilities further.
More importantly, it feels like part of the overall vision of Humanity instead of just extra ‘content’. I can’t quite put my finger on why that is without the context of the full game, but it’s there.
Unless it makes some massive misfire, I can’t see anything but a great game in Humanity. That distinct style I’ve come to expect of this development team is embedded in this puzzler. It’s offbeat, slightly trippy, and extremely chilled out (remarkable considering how the game escalates).
It’s a refreshing, yet comforting voyage. Come May 16th, we’ll see just how far that voyage will take us.
Humanity will be available on PS5, PS4, PSVR and PS VR2 on May 16, 2023.
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