When word about a Destroy All Humans! remake started popping up in the E3 rumor mill, I tried to keep my expectations low. Considering that the original version of that game happened to be one of my favorites during the first Xbox’s generation, along with Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse, I hoped that if that leak was indeed true, that whoever was behind it would do the game justice.
Lo and behold, it all proved correct, and one of my appointments with THQ Nordic at E3 just happened to be with the folks from Black Forest Games, who are handling a from the ground up remake of Destroy All Humans! to current gen consoles and PC. Destroy All Humans! is so near and dear to me because it managed to capture the best aspects of GTA’s revolutionary open-world gameplay and add its own unique twist to the formula, along with a great dose of humor and pokes at the Americana culture of the 1950s.
DAH! was a very fun game and playable game at that time, but looking back at it today, if it was just merely re-released as a remaster, it would be a lackluster game to be sure. There wasn’t much to do besides the main campaign outside of a few bonus challenges, and the world would feel too empty and drab for today’s standards. That’s why seeing this remake at E3 last week made me particularly happy, since it’s doing justice to the original game and at the same time adding plenty to it, modernizing what made Destroy All Humans! so great back in 2005.
There’s no doubt that Pandemic was a fantastic studio back when they were still around, and it stands to reason that their games are still considered some of the best open-worlds outside of Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row, and their influence is more than present in the remake. Black Forest Studio seems to have a handle on how to keep what made Destroy All Humans! so fun, and at the same time making refinements to the gameplay that make sense today. For the limited time I spent checking the alpha version out, I felt like I was playing a new game, and at the same time, I felt pretty nostalgic about it.
Nostalgia is the studio’s roadmap for this remake, and both devs handling the demo expressed that they’re trying to evoke the notion in players that they’re playing a version of DAH! that looks and feels like what they remember, but that isn’t exactly the same as what they played. That feeling certainly hit home as I watched them use telekinesis to lift cows up in the air as big-headed green (cross out) grey man Krypto and comically toss them around, or jumping into his flying saucer and using its death ray to destroy buildings, leaving huge crop marks in their wake.
Some of the changes in gameplay are pretty obvious, like the shift in camera perspective down to an angle closer to Krypto that’s more in line with what you’d be used to today. Others are more elegant and natural, like mapping abilities directly to buttons instead of having to select them off of a menu, so that you can combine them and not just rely on a single power at a time.
It was also great to see that the original voice cast is being kept for the remake, with the same audio samples from the first version of Destroy All Humans!, so if you’re like me and loved listening to Orthopox cursing in Invader Zim’s Richard Steven Horvitz distinctive tones, you’ll be in luck. Black Forest mentioned that the cast is being brought back to record new lines as they’re needed in order to keep it all as faithful as possible to the original, which is definitely a big plus.
The game’s world is also getting a big upgrade when it comes to visual variety, and according to them, there’s even going to be some new additions to it, thanks to the inclusion of some material that was cut from the original version of Destroy All Humans!, as well as the revamp of the map in order to include buildings that are actually different from one another and not just a set repeated over and over, and from the few locales that we got to see, like DAH!’s version of Santa Monica and a carnival theme park, it looks like they’re getting it right.
This remake is still far from being ready, but the little of it that I got to check out proved to be exciting to me, as a fan of the original Destroy All Humans!. There’s no firm release date for it yet, but if I had to guess, it’ll probably happen sometime late next year and it’ll hit Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4.