It’s been a while since a good action-RPG came out for a console, but Silicon Knight’s Too Human is like an oasis in a desert. It crams together some of the best characteristics of action adventure and the imaginative cultures of RPG and wrapped them up in a neat package. As the story goes, Too Human follows the Norse mythology with a cybernetic science fiction twist. You’re part of a cybernetically enhanced human race, considered by many as gods, protecting ordinary folks like us from the onslaught of advancing army of machines lead by the villain Loki. The real twist of the story is that humans are trying to become more like machines using cybernetic implants, while the machines are trying to become more human by harvesting human blood and limbs. Each side is trying to obtain perfection of the opposite.
You take on the role of Baldur, son of Odin and one of the Aesir, a group described in the Old Norse as the principal gods of the pantheon. What separates you from the other gods is that you are the least “enhanced” being out of all of them, hence the title ‘Too Human’. Despite your inadequate supplements to attain status of a respectable god, you’re still capable of annihilating hordes of gigantic cybernetic fiends with impressive consequence. You’ve more than enough god-like skills to rummage through whatever destructive forces that get in your way. In terms of layout, Too Human is mostly played in a third-person view; its fast-paced combat is easily the most gratifying aspect of the game. It ditches the standard button-based control scheme in favor of the right stick, which works beautifully. Special abilities are triggered by right bumper or X and Y buttons and the left bumper realigns the camera.
Fighting is as simple as holding the left stick towards your target to dash to them like a raging bull, and then tear them up with a variation of air juggles and combo strikes using the right stick. This simplicity is carried over to the aerial attacks as well – you can suspend enemies in midair and plaster them with a hailstorm composed of lead. Unfortunately, ranged combat is less practical. More often than not, you’ll shoot the wrong target or nothing at all. Additionally, the camera can be problematic at certain points in the game. Attacking an enemy offscreen, only to have the camera switch angles and change your target as a result can be annoying sometimes. Granted, there are some issues with the camera system and ranged combat, but you can’t deny the great accessibility of a dual-stick control scheme that the gameplay is based on. This concept deserves major kudos for its fluidity in both ground and air combat.
The game’s slick combat system is complimented by an insane amount of looting! Scavenging for items dropped by enemies reminded us of a mythic strategy title that Blizzard Entertainment made, which was called Diablo II. Many of these items can be customized by inserting runes into them that change the way they look and how they carry bonuses. As you progress through different stages, your main character levels up, and the points you’ve earned can be invested into two different skill trees: his class, and one for either cybernetic or human tree. Co-op is one of the game’s great assets; unfortunately it is only possible over Xbox Live. Still, plowing through hordes of enemies with a friend is something that will never get old. It’s more interactive and less monotonous when it is a shared experience. Needless to say, Too Human feels like it could’ve easily supported four players instead of being limited to just two.
Graphically, Too Human looks incredibly pleasing, although the scenery can be very repetitive. There are instances where you’ll ask yourself if you’ve been to this particular room before simply because it looks identical to the one you passed earlier. Cyberspace, an alternate but parallel reality that you can alter that affects the real world, is extremely varied in contrast, with large forests and what not. The combat sequence looks great, with robotic parts flying everywhere and explosions going off left and right, reeking with intensity. But scenery and combat aside, the cutscenes lack a bit of visual punch. In terms of character models, there are some great designs. Baldur’s face contorts when he is angry or sad, but it seems he is the only one who could do this type of emotions as almost everyone else seems “fixed”. Nevertheless, the environment is full of life and vivid colors, giving the Norse mythology a dose of reality.
In the audio department, the voice acting is so amazing that it communicates the characters’ emotion with ease. It’s easy to tell how Baldur and the rest of the main cast feel just by hearing their voice. But you can’t say the same for some of the soldiers and other minor characters. They speak as though they are trying to force out a rough, badass voice, but end up sounding somewhat of cheesy dud, who is going through his first puberty. Even so, the clashing effects of steel against steel are very convincing, and background explosion gives players an immersive experience. The musical score is well traversed – it gives good indication in cuing you for a stunning clip after an intense battle. In addition, the game does a good job of providing the right symphony to the type of mood displayed on the screen.
Overall, Too Human is a solid action-RPG. You have a good combat system here that is easy to learn and instantly situates you into an adventurous frame of mind. The gameplay remains relatively smooth throughout its fast-paced fighting scenes. However, the game could have benefited from a more balanced camera system, a local two-player co-op, a configurable control scheme, and a create-a-character feature. Still the game has plenty of memorable moments, thanks to the incredible presentation that brings life to the Norse mythology in an epic scale! The fact that Too Human has some amazing RPG elements built into the action such as item hunting, customizable weapons, armor, and cybernetics, as well as skill tree progression, only add to the game’s replay value. There is no doubt that this game will provide you hours of entertainment but it’s not for everybody. We urge you to check out the demo first.