29th Jun2017

Digital Shorts: ‘I Want to be Human’ Review (PS4)

by Matthew Smail

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at I Want to be Human– a new ndie game that’s just arrived on the Plaustation 4.

IWTBH-cover-art

I Want to be Human is an incredibly cheap title, weighing in at just a couple of quid. That’s a good thing for me, because sadly, I’m not a massive fan. I Want to be Human has a kind of bonkers back story that I’ll skip over a bit, but suffice to say, we control a pair of star-crossed lovers, living in a world where romance is dead. Caught kissing, and sentenced to suffer a genetic experiment that could hold the cure to immortality (basically vampirism and, erm hattism) they must escape captivity and cure themselves lest they be forever cursed.

I Want to be Human is a side scrolling platform game with a retro look that features a limited colour palette of black, white and red and it is quite hard, occasionally for the wrong reasons which I will explain in a moment. In a nutshell, players roam around the fairly expansive levels double jumping and wall hanging to make progress. The controls are fairly crisp, but I found them a little too complex for some of the environments and although I’m “not bad” at computer games, I often found that I had to tie my fingers in knots to progress.

Levels have lots of verticality, meaning that with the right combination of jumps, double jumps and by using the hanging skill to temporarily slide down a block or wall, you can scale even the highest heights. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of what I consider to be thoughtless or frustrating design – in particular, there are lots of occasions where blocks are above one another, and the player must jump outwards, then change direction in the air to catch the block above before doing something else. Call me old fashioned, but that’s just not the kind of gameplay I enjoy. Another control related aspect I found annoying was aiming the shotgun, which is achieved through the same stick as movement, giving the game a “frustratingly retro” feel.

I Want to be Human is centred around a hub world that enables players to jump into any level unlocked so far (and to repeat them) and a core mechanic is actually chasing high scores by replaying these levels. There are five worlds in all, so there is a fair bit of content, but whilst developer Rising Star games has worked hard to show differences in each, the monochrome colour palette does limit the variance quite a bit. There are some sequences that change the feel of gameplay a little bit such as one that reminded me of a kind of bullet hell shooter, and other features such as boss fights that enhance things, but there isn’t anything extraordinary.

What I Want to be Human does fairly well is toilet humour and gore. Shooting enemies will result in huge torrents of blood and flying body parts, and there are lots and lots of crude and occasionally funny jokes dished out either in the comics that act as cut scenes, or the on screen dialogue dished out by the player character and some of the more notable enemies. Whether you enjoy this or not, it is certainly an inherent part of the style in I Want to be Human, and therefore feels right at home.

I don’t think I would recommendI Want to be Human because it annoyed me as often as it amused me, but then again it is incredibly cheap and it isn’t a badly made game or anything, it’s just not specifically my cup of tea. It’s the kind of game that might appeal to speedrunners and fans of games like Super Meat Boy, because there is a masochistic edge to some of the visuals and the accompanying gameplay. Check out a video or two first, you have been warned!

** 2/5

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