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Destroy All Humans remake review: A faithful recreation that nostalgia can't carry

If the "Red Scare" were a video game, this would be it. But its satire gets lost in dated humor.

Destroy All Humans Crypto
(Image: © Windows Central)

We all look at games from our childhoods through rose-colored glasses. They're always a lot prettier than we remember, played a lot better. That's definitely the case with Destroy All Humans. Playing the remake felt exactly as I remembered it, and after looking up some old gameplay footage, that's very clearly not the case. Black Forest Games did some major overhauls here.

The remake of Destroy All Humans does a lot of things right. The control scheme has been updated, and the UI layout isn't an eyesore, the fluidity of the controls and Crypto-137's has been improved. And the graphics have been modernized appropriately. They're not photo-realistic, but they're stylized and definitely fit within what we've come to expect from games like that today.

Despite all of this, no amount of graphical enhancements and some gameplay tweaks can fix what ultimately represents a fundamentally short experience. It's also one that doesn't provide a ton of fun, leaning primarily on thoughtless destruction.

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by THQ Nordic. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.

Destroy All Humans What I like

Destroy All Humans Anal Probe

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
CategoryGameNameXXX
TitleDestroy All Humans
DeveloperBlack Forest Games
PublisherTHQ Nordic
GenreAction-adventure
Xbox VersionXbox One X
Game Size15.1GB
Play Time13 hours
PlayersSingle-player
Xbox Game PassNo
Launch Price$40 (opens in new tab)

Black Forest Games remade Destroy All Humans exactly as I remember it, and that's about the biggest compliment you can give a remake. It didn't set out to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it exists as a more palatable way to enjoy it in 2020. To its benefit, the cartoony, stylized graphics fit perfectly with the game's atmosphere. It just wouldn't be the same experience if it had gone for realism.

The gameplay itself received some welcome enhancements, too, mainly in the form of a better control layout. Seemingly small changes like this go a long way. It still mostly plays the way you'd expect it to, but everything feels much nicer to control.

After each successful mission, you'll earn points that can be spent to upgrade either one of Crypto's abilities and weapons or his ship's. This is done through a separate menu outside of the gameplay missions, and I highly recommend you take the time to go through them all to see what you can afford to unlock. At the very least, upgrading your shields and ammo capacity is a must. As easy as Destroy All Humans can be, there still comes a time when you're outnumbered and outgunned. A good shield gives you some breathing room.

Overall, the original experience was taken and made a lot prettier with some much-needed improvements. Now, if you're asking whether the original was all that great, to begin with, well...

Destroy All Humans What I don't like

Destroy All Humans Flying

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Destroy All Humans originally came out 15 years ago, and it's easy to view it as a satire of 1950s American lifestyle, but the parody falls flat more than once. The amount of "those dirty commie" jokes was a little bit absurd, and the caricatures of "dumb southern Americans" just don't hold up as well as they used to. On the comedy front, other games have done it much better.

The game is also incredibly short. That's not an automatic knock against any game — some of my favorites are less than 10 hours long — but the story missions here are so unsatisfying to get through. It's like a rinse and repeat of 10-30 minute chunks at different locales.

Even the gameplay is simplistic, to its benefit for a younger audience, but this also means it tends to be boring and repetitive. Unlocking new weapons and abilities for Crypto and his ship doesn't change the game up all that much. Yes, the Anal Probe is a silly name for an alien weapon, it's just practically useless in combat. For such uninspired gameplay, a short campaign was almost a blessing in disguise.

Destroy All Humans Should you buy it?

Destroy All Humans Majestic Base

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Black Forest Games did everything right here. I'm just not sure if it's enough. The remake is true to the original with improved graphics and controls, but the game itself isn't exactly amazing. Some of the humor is dated, the combat and gameplay feel shallow, the additional objectives are mere padding, and you can probably do it all in around 10+ hours.

Unless you're a superfan of the original Destroy All Humans and have been eagerly awaiting this remake, I'd probably give it a pass. Curiosity as to how it stacks up to the original isn't worth the $40 in my mind. Just watch a playthrough.

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.