This quirky puzzler from Tetris Effect’s Tetsuya Mizuguchi has you play a cute shiba inu that barks orders at human lemmings.
I grew up on quirky, out-of-the-box Japanese puzzle games like Intelligent Qube, Devil Dice, and Katamari Damacy. Within their own universe of wacky rules, they were challenging and innovative, almost something out of a Japanese game show. Revealed during PlayStation’s State of Play back in February this year, Humanity squarely follows in their footsteps. Developer tha ltd., a design company based in Tokyo that creates all sorts of interactive media, and designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi, of Rez and Tetris Effect: Connected, have created something unusual, absurd, and strangely brilliant from what I’ve played so far. I mean, how else do you describe a game about a shiba inu barking orders at human lemmings?
What a cute herding dog
Despite the rather abstract, offbeat, and conceptual trailers for Humanity, the game is actually simpler than it looks. As a luminescent white shiba inu spirit, you are tasked by what seems to be a computer simulation (or it could be a digital rendition of the gods for all I know) to guide humans toward the light. In stages mostly made out of cubes, the humans continuously spawn from one white door and it’s your job to tell them to turn and jump in the right places so that they can reach the exit in one piece. It’s sort of like a modern 3D reimagining of Pipe Dream, except that the liquid is actually people instead. (It’s weird, I know.)
Now, you don’t need to worry about the humans dying herer or anything like that. If they ever fall from a place that’s too high or otherwise meet their doom, they turn back into spiritual energy and emerge once more from the door of light. Or at least that’s how the narrator of the simulation explains it. Either way, it’s a good thing you don’t hear their screams or see any gory splatters anywhere, because the game is about a lot of trial and error. Between all the tweaks that I’ve had to make figuring out whether I need the humans to jump, high jump, or long jump into a bottomless pit, it’s nice that they’re pretty much docile and complacent sheeple. (To be honest, the analogy of herding sheep isn’t too far off.)