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This random rant is about a game that has been released at the wrong time in history: Humans Must Answer.

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There was a time where Shoot Em Ups were THE thing, and they were not tender carebears like most modern games: they used to kick your ass and enjoyed doing it.

If you know the game  of the following screenshot you know what I’m talking about:

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Those games were tough, and required you to:

a) Learn the layout of each level

b) Learn the pattern of each enemy

c) Don’t fuck up ANYTHING

Shoot Em Ups later split into 2 categories: what I would consider the “classic” STG, and the “bullet hell” style (Donpachi, Xceed etc). I’ve personally always preferred the former, as I don’t think that dodging glowing balls should be my only focus in a STG.

What I’ve always loved about good STG is that they punish you for your mistakes, they don’t put you in a situation like:”Ok now you DIE, and from now on you know how it works”, that’s a dick move, stuff that really annoyed me when playing games a-la Dark Souls.

A good STG allows you to survive from the beginning to the end, but your skills and knowledge are what actually keeps you alive.

Back to topic: Humans Must Answer. Why do I consider it to be a game released at the wrong time? Because nowadays STG are not extremely popular. The mainstream of casual players hates games that are able to kick the player’s ass repeatedly, and any idiot and his software is making either an FPS or a MOBA style game. The new FOTM seems to be rogue-like games, many indie developers and software houses are investing into that due to the success of some recent games such as Faster Than Light and Rogue Legacy. Rogue-likes are challenging and a good step in the right direction, let’s see what happens with that.

But the problem for Humans Must Answers is that it’s not a trendy genre, and it’s also an ass-kicking game, so it keeps most casual players away from it.

And that’s a pity, because it’s a masterpiece.

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I’m not talking about graphics (that look pretty slick) and sound (the ost is amazing), but the gameplay is so smooth and well balanced that it’s a joy to play even when you get punished for the smallest error. It’s a game that allows you to complete a level even on your first try if you play it carefully, but being out of position just for a moment, or not killing a key enemy in time, or wasting a bit too much energy on something an being unable to use your special….yep, that’s gg.

I find it amazing, it takes me back in time to when STG used to harass you, they were throwing wave after wave of enemies and glowing balls at you while at the same time presenting lots and lots of dangerous structures or terrain.

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It’s not just about dodging balls, just the way I like it.

Considering the price of only 10$ on GOG, the high replay-ability and the fact that it takes a lot to master this game, I would heartily recommend it to anyone, not just to people who are into STGs, but to anyone who likes good videogames and good challenges.

To any experienced STG player, Normal is a good way to learn game mechanics, Hard or + start to offer a nice degree of challenge. For people who are not used to STG I suggest to start with the easiest setting, game mechanics are not hard at all (I wish there were more upgrades, and more variety to them) but getting to know each level, the position of the golden eggs, how to reach them safely etc etc require quite a bit of effort.

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