Humans, The Download (1992 Puzzle Game)

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One of the immediate things you notice about The Humans when you first start to play is an inescapable comparison to the highly successful title by Psygnosis, namely Lemmings. Although somewhat similar in style as far as looks go, comparison of the on-screen critters reveals a vast difference. In The Humans you've got a much greater vested interest in having your tribe survive; forget those cute rodents. After all, you're responsible for the mere evolution of mankind and must pave the way to dominance over all other creatures, large and small. There are, however, remarkable similarities between the two games. First, you progress through The Humans screen by screen by solving coordination and logic problems. Second, your actions are timed. Third, you're given "level" codes upon completion of each level that allow you to continue from that point. There are no save games per se in the game during the action. Eighty successively difficult levels await you in any one of three skill levels.

In order to lead your tribes down the primrose path of successful evolution, you'll periodically pick up new and better tools of "civilization". Beginning with the discovery of the spear (for offensive/defensive use and as a fulcrum to leap with), your arsenal continues to expand with the advent of fire (the torch), the rope, the wheel and lastly the witch doctor. The introduction of the wise (and sometimes not too friendly shaman) is a delightful addition to the game, as he can be as destructive as he is helpful. An important aspect of the game that requires almost immediate mastering is the "stacking" technique that allows your humans to gain access to areas otherwise unattainable. The graphics in The Humans are not the prettiest in computerdom but they are humorously rendered even though the level of detail isn't quite as precise as you might want. The game contains a "forget-it-let-me-try-again" feature which comes in very handy when you realize your progress in any given level is beyond hope. Running out of time on the level causes you to lose a human from your tribe but for each second you finish early, you receive ten points. Final score of each level is a simple matter of multiplying the surviving number of humans by the level number with the result multiplied by ten. Although an artificial scoring system at best, it does give you something to shoot for in replays.

A cleverly written, informative and amusing manual is worthy of mention, as is the unobtrusive yet strangely hypnotic music score. One definite flaw in the game is the nearly total lack of any significant sound effects. In a game that features strenuous activities like those found in The Humans, whether it be dinosaur bashing or war cries, the oversight is obvious and detracts in a small way from the game's otherwise healthy enjoyment quotient. The Humans is not a quick walk in the park as some of the logic puzzles and coordination schemes are definitely diabolical in design. But then no one ever said evolution was easy.

Graphics: Not as detailed and sharp as they might have been but adequate.

Sound: The music is non-invasive and complements the gameplay wonderfully. However, low marks are awarded for the singular lack of sound effects.

Enjoyment: Fans of Lemmings will feel a sense of déjà vu but The Humans rates high on it's own merit. It's one of those games where the night fades away as you yell at the screen: "Just one more try!"

Replay Value: With 80 levels and 3 skill options, replay won't be necessary for quite a time. When it is, there's enough fun packaged here to make it a repeatable experience.


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