Humanity’s screenfulls of little people create striking images, but there’s also a great puzzle game beneath the art.
Before I declare Humanity a new member of the Videogames As Art canon, I should confess that I know embarrassingly little about art. My mom is an artist and has worked in art galleries for most of my life. My dad is a photographer. I like and appreciate art, but I have no vocabulary for it—I spent half the time I should’ve been writing this preview of a brilliant videogame trying to decide if it was an expression of futurism, or constructivism, or minimalism.
Did you know there’s a post-minimalism? I should try my hand at being a post-post-minimalist writer and turn in an empty page next time I’m on a deadline. But that wouldn’t be fair to Humanity, which I’ve been playing nightly for the last couple weeks.
Perhaps this is a more useful aesthetic reference point: Humanity is an early-2000s physics tech demo turned into a proper game. It unabashedly pairs philosophical musings on life and war with block-pushing puzzles, like a different strain of Keita Takahashi’s Katamari Damacy.
Humanity has real “they don’t make ’em like they used to” vibes, which publisher Enhance played into with an ad paying homage to the bizarre PlayStation commercials of the ’90s and ’00s. But honestly, what makes Humanity great is that they couldn’t make them like this back in the day. What I mostly love about it is how it can fill the screen with hundreds upon hundreds of little low-poly people, rivers of bodies endlessly flowing around the cubey maps without a frame drop in sight.