Superpowers are fun. Fundamentally, being able to shoot lasers from your eyes, smash people to bits with a single punch and launch tanks into the atmosphere is fun. It’s even more primal and enjoyable when we get to be the big bad, the highest echelon of dickheadedness as we reap destruction on our pesky human brethren. Conquer Humanity [Steam] should therefore be really fun.
Which begs the question of how a video game can manage to take that heady promise and fumble it harder than Hancock fumbles being a superhero.
Conquer Humanity is a solo developer project currently in Early Access on Steam that holds these deepest inner destructive desires with potential, but just isn’t anywhere near a complete vision, nor a game yet worth your time.
In Conquer Humanity, our sociopathic, superpowered force of destruction enters simulations of humanity to murder and maim. Why? Don’t know, there’s no context here. Does it need it? Nah, you can melt limbs and blow off heads with your eyes, who cares why you’re doing it.
The hypercharged wrecking ball we play as (who looks like a cross between The Boys’ Homelander and Raiden from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance), has 6 main moves. Laser eyes, ground pound, push, pull, melee and dash. You mix-and-match between these abilities to kill everything that moves around you in a shower of blood, guts and limbs.
As you unleash hell on the unfortunate passers-by, you can rack up points on a D-C-B-A-S-SS-SSS meter ripped straight from Devil May Cry. Hit rank A and you can go turbo with increased AoE, damage and health. I’d like to see the bar decrease less rapidly as it’s ridiculously easy to fall out of your chain through no fault of your own (like having no enemy on-screen to decimate).
I would go into more detail but that’s literally the entire game as it is right now. You aimlessly run about destroying everything in your path and then just keep doing so until you get bored. It’s the same from minute one to minute 59. I became tired of it within about 5 minutes, never mind trying to drag out this gameplay loop for more than an hour.
A Bloody Mess
Conquer Humanity has 2 modes available right now: Conquer Humanity (how creative) and Sandbox. Acting as the single-player “levels”, the Conquer Humanity mode has 4 difficulties: easy, medium, hard and God. Regardless of the difficulty you’re on, you’re placed onto the same map, whereby every kill you earn fills a bar at the bottom, eventually raising the level. Reach level 30, you win.
There are no distinct levels or anything that changes as you progress, higher difficulties just lower your number of lives. Every 5-10 levels of a run an increase in threat occurs: Police start arriving in greater numbers, then replaced by SWAT teams with greater firepower. There are bosses that spawn with glowing weakpoints and ridiculous firepower: from a flamethrower dude to a giant drone and missle-launching mechs.
The number of kills needed to progress up levels is laborious, bosses are fairly spongey and can stun-lock or destroy your health bar pretty snappy and the lack of variety from actually playing the game becomes too apparent to make the mode compelling. Reaching level 20 felt like an achievement not because of difficulty, but through trying to force my way through the mundaneity of the experience.
It’s clear that there are plans to make this loop more appealing: having some kind of permanent upgrade tree, random power-ups, a switch up of location would all do a lot to aid the experience. There’s potential for this to turn into a rogue-lite esque design at some point and the dev has alluded to as much being the plan, but it’s just such bland action presently.
End My Suffering
I’d speak about the Sandbox mode but it’s literally the same experience with no levels or power cooldowns, you just select from a menu what enemies to fight. Again, hopefully this can be fleshed out more over time and with more development resources.
What needs a lot more work however, is the visual and technical performance. Conquer Humanity is unappealing despite the lashings of blood and sinew that typically carry more violent games. The map is devoid of detail or life, the humans you crush are repetitive and lack any personality, even the main supervillain looks jaded and missing a certain energy.
Fire effects and destruction physics on the few sparsely populated buildings are surprisingly impressive, especially from the work of a sole developer. Outside of this though, from menus to laser graphics and beyond, there’s just no life behind these proton-beamed eyes.
Conquer Humanity is also technically a bit of a wreck at the moment. My FPS was often in the single digits from the moment more than a half dozen things were on-screen. The menus froze a couple of times and it’s difficult to gauge the consistency of where and when powers will actually work as they’re intended.
It works – it never crashed on me or bricked itself entirely. But it’s like being inside an actively erupting volcano when the game has to manage more than a couple of assets at a time.
Room For Growth?
Thanks to the space that Early Access provides, Conquer Humanity has time on its side and room to grow. I hope it can reach its potential as a fun and chaotic bullet-hell experience, I really do. In its current form, it’s more like one of those old Miniclip games you played as a kid. You’d play a quick 5 minutes because the premise intrigued you, and hopped off no better or worse for the experience.
The violence, gore and super villain premise are great ideas, they just need a lot more expansion and refinement to really make this a game worth trying. Being bogged down by awful technical performance, repetitive gameplay and uninteresting visuals is just too much of a weight to bear for the title.
The developer appears to have some solid additions planned and I’d like nothing more than in 6 months time if this was Homelander meets Prototype. What a game that could be.
Conquer Humanity is a conquest operation that’s barely gotten started before stalling abjectly. Unappealing visuals, a lack of variety in gameplay and poor technical performance make it a truly hard sell at present. Early Access means there’s hope it can become a species-dominating force one day, but it is not this day.
Conquer Humanity is launching on PC via Steam Early Access in Q1 2023.
Developer: Adi Zhavo
Publisher: Adi Zhavo
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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