Humanity is a puzzle game from THA and Enhance where you, an ethereal Shiba Inu, are tasked with leading droves of mindlessly marching people through various obstacles into an end goal called “the light.” The bizarre premise could easily lend itself to a surrealist narrative, but instead layers of weirdness are slowly peeled away to reveal a coherent plot, adding history and stakes to its world, which is much appreciated.
It’s still pretty weird though. You take full control of the dog, which can run, jump, and possess the people in order to travel quickly through their ranks. The dog also has a wide variety of powers called commands that can be used to manipulate the people’s movement. Simple commands like “turn,” “jump,” and “pause” give way to trickier ones like “float,” “long jump,” and “follow.” Different puzzles limit access to different commands, so while you won’t be free to find multiple solutions to a single stage, this allows the genius of the meticulously crafted puzzles to shine through.
The ultimate goal of each stage is usually to lead one or more processions of people into one or more light locations, but the stages can have a number of sub goals that need to be met beforehand, like triggering switches, pushing blocks into specific positions, or maintaining a minimum amount of people. There are also bonus objectives called Goldies that tend to add an extra wrinkle into an otherwise straightforward solution, as collecting them isn’t required for level completion, but you will need to rack up a certain number to unlock the final stages of each chapter.
It’s an enjoyable ramp-up of puzzle gameplay that’s easy to get hooked on, but the world also has properties you’ll need to consider and adapt to with each new stage. Some levels start to incorporate wind or conveyor belts that you’ll need to use or avoid. The people themselves will swim if they encounter water or die should they fall from too far a height. And if they’re armed, they’ll fire upon enemies in range.
Yes, Humanity manages to weave combat into some of its puzzle design. A reoccurring stage condition will make you lay out all of your commands in advance before hitting a start button, locking you out of further influence on the action. Things like limiting the number of each command type available or the placement of aggressive enemies effectively recreates the feeling of playing entirely different games. You’ll experience light real-time strategy, stealth action, and even cinematic boss fights. The scenarios are tremendously clever, building on each introduced concept but never shy about pivoting to something completely new yet easy to grasp.
It’s also quite generous with tools to help ease frustration, like innate abilities to use a paused free camera, fast-forward time, or retry a stage while saving all placed commands. Each stage even provides a full solution video that you can watch in 10-second increments as hints. It also has a robust stage builder to create and upload your own puzzles for others to try, complete with in-depth tutorials for all its ins and outs.
The clean and minimalist design makes the game easy to follow even with hundreds of people marching, jumping, or falling all over a stage. Its quirky music is a perfect mood setter to keep you focused on the task of finding a solution as you study the stage from all angles. The game supports VR too, which is a cool novelty but has no significant effect on gameplay.
Humanity is not only a phenomenal puzzle game, but it’s incredibly smart about eliminating many of the annoyances that come with the territory. It doesn’t limit itself to the confines of the genre it’s in, and on top of providing a ton of fun challenges, over 16 hours it weaves in a story that asks people to think a little less about themselves and instead consider what can be achieved together. The game is out May 16 for $29.99 on Steam, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Humanity.