Kickstarter is a fantastic idea isn’t it? The majority of people are familiar with it, but in case you are uncertain – Kickstarter is a private America-based website and company that gives individuals/groups of people the space and tools to have their creative projects/ideas crowd funded. Projects offer incentives for people to donate their cash so they can reach their goal, for example T-shirts, signed goods, early access/free copies of the creative endeavour backers are funding. Kickstarter has, well, kick started many projects since the website was established in 2009, since then it’s completely snowballed in popularity. In fact, in 2012 people from 177 countries backed a variety of projects. That’s 90% of the world’s countries; you can’t make this stuff up. So that’s great and all, but what about video games specifically? Well in 2012 video game projects had the most money pled to them – a whopping $83 million. Will video games be at the top again this year? Who knows, we’ll have to wait until next year to find that out, but what we do know is that video games are still kicking strong as proven by Humans Must Answer.
Humans Must Answer was live on Kickstarter on the 13th of March this year and received £5,519 of funding by the 13th of April. It was released on the 11th of June and developed by Sumom Games (those guys don’t waste time it seems, very impressive!). Humans Must Answer had 372 backers in total – so what is it, why were people willing to back it? Well, Humans Must Answer is a 2D arcade horizontal space shooter that’s part of the shmup (shoote ‘em up) sub-genre. Shmup is a very popular sub-genre among the new gamers that prefer classic style shooters and popular among the bit-babies who grew up with the likes of Scramble, Gradius and its spin-off Salamander. Humans Must Answer brings all the classic fun that comes with being a 2D horizontal shooter – simple controls, power ups and a satisfying sense of challenge. Sumom have added their own spin to the genre adding new elements of fun such as turrets, a sense of humour, customisable ships and a fun narrative. Love shmups, love old school horizontal shooters? Curious about one of the most iconic sub-genres in gaming history? This might just be the game for you.
You will be playing as a pilot chicken (told you it had some humour) flying a rather garish ship named the Golden Eagle. Your job is to navigate the Golden Eagle into the Yolk System (that’s the Solar System to us humans) as the chickens have received an SOS about a malfunction regarding the Yolk (the sun). You must reach the yolk system N-365 where the distress signal originates, however it’s not going to be an easy flight for these chickens. There’s an abundance of enemy forces and obstacles on the way to the Yolk System – meteorites, ships, turrets, AI systems and generally lots of bullets heading your way and explosions in your vicinity. This game is rather difficult even on medium, so if you’re new to games like Humans Must Answer or prefer easy games then definitely crank down the settings. You have a choice of easy, medium, hard and very hard so make sure you choose wisely, nobody likes dying all the time. Having your ship destroyed in Humans Must Die can be particularly annoying as there isn’t a lives system; as soon as you die you must restart the level from scratch, so make sure you’re up to the challenge if you choose the harder difficulties.
Something a little different about this shmup is that you aren’t alone in your chicken world; you have the help and input of two other bird brains – Colonel Ram and Professor Bez. Colonel Ram is a stereotypical loud mouthed and boisterous military chicken; whereas Professor Baz is described as a passionate but snarky hermit (he seems to dislike Colonel Ram). These two feathered fellows will give you briefings which you can access if you want to before you go onto the next level. You don’t have to which is nice, if you just want to play the game you can just get onto the next level. These guys don’t particularly add much to the gameplay, but they do add a nice extra layer of depth and personality to the game.
Gameplay wise the game is typical of its genre – up, down, left and right arrows to move, Z/X keys to fire your weapons. There is a standard weapon which will destroy regular enemies and a stronger weapon to destroy shielded enemies. The weapons do have limitations indicated by bars below the health bar in the top left hand corner, this is to prevent constant weapon spam because what’s the fun in the game if you can destroy things before you even see them? There are pickups around the levels which will extend how often you can use weapons, so keep an eye out for those. Players can also laydown turrets and use special weapons such as slow-mo with the A/S/SPACEBAR keys adding an element of strategy to the game. That’s about as complex as the controls are which is good, over-complex horizontal shooters aren’t common for a reason.
Another great aspect of the game is customisation – players can customize their ship before going onto the next level. Customizable ship parts are the armour and weapons, for example you could upgrade your energy gun to a machine gun, or perhaps you’d like to change your special and choose something that is useful when certain situations come up such as a slow-mo device that can assist you when you’re in tight spots.
Without spoiling anything, All Humans Must die has a good story that develops nicely. The narrative works well with the game and doesn’t feel shoved down the throat of the player – the story is definitely there to assist the gameplay, not the other way around. The story still holds is own though, as players progress through the game against Humans and Robots. The games visual style is nice – a little animated but not to the point where it’s unappealing, it suits the whole attitude and atmosphere of the game, as does the music. The soundtrack for Humans Must Answer is suitable, nothing particularly catchy but it’s good background music for the game, and hey, maybe if you’re into atmospheric space-themed music you’ll love it.
Humans Must Answer is a great credit to the 2D horizontal shmup world of video games – it keeps to the old defining features of the genre – simple controls, lots of enemies, pickups and challenging. It also brings something new to the table with the addition of customisation, special attacks and turrets, plus a nice sense of humour that players will still feel even when knee deep in enemy ships. Humans Must Answer is a nice break from the vertical bullet hell shmups we see more often than not these days, so if you’re looking for something to take you back to your side-scrolling-shooter origins then pick it up, if you’re just interested in trying out a shmup game then pick it up, and if you enjoy a light-hearted but challenging game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, then pick it up. Humans Must Answer is available at GOG.com at the moment for the reasonable price of $10 at the moment, a pretty good price for hours of entertainment.
Editors Comment ” This is simple an old school shooter based around Irem’s R-Type Series, and Sumom Games have done a great job at bring the genre to a whole generation of gamers”.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.