Human Resource Machine – Wii U I must admit, despite hearing lots of positivity about Human Resource Machine I was still humming and arring about requesting a review code for this game. I was nervous. What if they actually gave it to me? That means I would have to review it! Not that I doubted the developers of World of Goo and Little Inferno to produce a quality title, but more doubting myself.
All I’d heard of Human Resource Machine is that it’s a puzzle game revolving around coding. I’ve never done any kind of coding before, ever. Even copying and pasting pre-made code for my website makes me sweat.
With great trepidation upon booting the game up, I was quickly guided into what is a very clever, logical, and methodical puzzle game, albeit brain bustingly challenging.
Like any good puzzle game it gently eases you into the mechanics of the game, slowly introducing new things in every level. It’s your first day on the job in the office, naturally you start right at the bottom. Your first task is in the sorting office, taking things from the Inbox to the Outbox. On the right hand of the screen you have all the available commands plus you command order. You use the styles to drag and place which commands you want in which order.
It’s all highly logical and must be explicit. Upon the first assignment I was sat scratching my head as to why my two commands Inbox and then Outbox wouldn’t take all three of the letters required from the inbox to the outbox. It turns out I needed to repeat the commands three times, one for each letter movement. I felt like an idiot, quite rightly so.
Within a few levels you’ve got a decent amount of commands at your disposal and increasingly complex job specifications. You can Jump between routines, add, subtract, hold things for later on. Needless to say it’s all very complicated and for me, difficult, which might take away some of the appeal for many gamers out there.
Tasks given to your become increasingly difficult and specific too. You will be required to do weirdly specific things like only allow items that appear in pairs, yet only have one of them put in to the outbox. There’s lots of maths and lots and lots of thinking.
As I’ve stated before, it’s a good puzzle game, just not particularly accessible. If you’re like me then you will fail. A lot. It takes a little bit of trial and error, some logical thinking and learning the power of the commands is a must if you want to make your way through the levels. I need to admit at around level 20 I was REALLY struggling. That’s only half way through the game. Puzzles can take anywhere from a few minutes to even an hour depending on your brain power.
Saying that, the sense of experimentation with your lines, testing them, seeing where they’ve gone wrong, how to get around it and so on, all adds up to a very satisfying victory once you crack it.
I would advise reading the objective very clearly as the game is very precise in what it’s asking for and one slight misinterpretation of conditions will instantly lead you astray.
I think maybe the game is a little fussy at times with the solution. Like at one point I was convinced I’d done everything that was asked, I moved all the zeroes to one side as was asked, but apparently it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be done and so it was rejected. A frustrating end to what I thought was a long fought victory.
There are about 40 levels overall, some of which are optional and even more difficult. I think this is a decent amount depending on how good you are at the game. Some players who are more familiar with this kind of concept will get through it much more quickly then someone like me. As mentioned before, I could spend up to half an hour or more on certain puzzles, which adding them all up can lead to a game of fair length for the price.
For those really good at the game, there are extra specifications you can try to achieve for each puzzle. Most stages have a goal for the efficiency of your code; both how few steps you can do it in and how few commands you can do it in.
The artwork and music is fantastic, as you’d expect from Tomorrow Corporation. It has this dreary yet somehow amusing and charming look to it. My only issue with it is that, as nice as the office space is, with it’s quirky weirdness, it’s only an office space. Some newer environments every few levels would have been nice, even if they made no sense.
In between every few stages there’s a short “coffee break”, which is a short animation with lots of humour, usually involving the workers in your building. Although they are short they really add to the game and give it a lot more personality.
Overall, it’s difficult not to be charmed by Human Resource Machine. The problem is, it can be pretty inaccessible after the first handful of level when the going gets tough. I’ll admit it was too difficult to me at about the halfway point. If this is your thing and you have the skills, this game will delight you. For computer luddites like me, well, it’s definitely not for us.
– Charming aesthetics
– Very clever and tricky puzzles
– Inaccessible for common folk