Human Resource Machine takes assembly language and tosses it into a video game, making it as fun as it can possibly be while also throwing some challenge at players to give them some satisfaction as they overcome difficult obstacles. It manages to succeed in some areas but the level of entertainment is drowned out in later sections as things grow increasingly difficult without too much in the form of tutorials. Your direct supervisor in the office environments will provide some information but in some later stages it just isn’t enough. You’ll feel intelligent and definitely experience some satisfaction as you complete some of the challenges but the entertainment won’t reach heights that are too high when they difficulty is manageable. This is especially true as the difficulty rises in later portions of the game. The fun factor never rises but the difficulty continues to, resulting in frustration growing as players progress in the game.
Human Resource Machine takes place in an office building and will task you with crafting assembly language formulas that start off easy enough to understand and lure you in. There will be things in an inbox and an outbox on the right. You’ll need to utilize commands and create formulas that satisfy specific needs (such as multiplying numbers to increase their value or placing the items on the outbox assembly line in an opposite order) while also placing them on the outbox assembly line. You’ll do this by selecting specific locations (inbox, outbox, or boxes in the middle) and have commands apply to them. By arranging commands, you’ll be able to manipulate the flow of everything and choose what happens. If you’re able to understand it all enough, you can have formulas loop and run in an even more efficient manner. You can change the speed in which the formulas run too which can help quite a bit. You can play it slowly so you can try to see where errors or inefficiencies may be happening. If you’re confident and know your formulas are correct and tightly constructed, you could have it play quickly and admire your work with a smile.
It’s entertaining enough at times I suppose but ultimately falls short of reaching the same levels of fun as the other Tomorrow Corporation published titles Little Inferno and World of Goo. It can be a little fun in some challenges but ultimately what you’ll feel the most is just the satisfaction of solving the puzzles across the levels. The downside to this is you’ll be stuck far more often than not and it absolutely cuts into how much fun you’ll be having.
There isn’t a lot in terms of story but there’s some in the background that will progress with cut scenes. The primary focus is on gameplay though and if you’re able to learn and understand enough of it then you’ll be content with the gameplay offerings. The major issue lies in the difficulty and lack of proper explanations in the second two thirds of the game. It’s easy enough early on to satisfy players who may not be educated in assembly language and the concepts explored in this game. However as it grows increasingly difficult it will lose the majority of those who choose to play it. This is primarily because the last two thirds of the game will be too difficult while not being entertaining, enticing, or rewarding enough for players not familiar with the subject matter. Those that are more advanced or simply educated on the subject matter won’t have a continued interest in the game as the difficulty likely won’t be enough to hold their interest. The major issue lies in the lack of proper explanations in the more difficult sections of the game. Players will likely need to consult guides too often or simply just be too frustrated to continue. With no way to skip ahead or to a different area and needing to essentially look up solutions, players will likely stop playing this title.
The assembly language puzzles are written well enough and if you can understand them and find enough enjoyment here then there’s a decent amount of content to experience in Human Resource Machine. It took me about seven hours to complete the game but that was with consulting a guide through many levels in the last two thirds of the game. I was pretty good early on and could grasp everything but as it progressed I was lost in the details. Were it not for me reviewing this title, I would have quit playing it due to the difficulty and lack of reasons to continue playing other than the challenges it presented.
The music is a highlight for me and I’m very happy that there’s a soundtrack mode that can be accessed at any time on the main menu. This feature is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch and will likely be the sole reason for me booting this game up. Over time, it’ll eclipse my actual playing time with the title. It’s energetic and bouncy and certainly adds to both the atmosphere and keeps you motivated to continue working through the puzzles.
The graphics and style of this game work very well for the tone and mood that Tomorrow Corporation set out to achieve. They feel dreary and sarcastic which fall right in line with the dialogue and also within the atmosphere of the world. It feels almost hopeless and graphical style really helps accent that but in a cute and charming way. It’s also uplifting in a way because they also appear almost optimistic, especially the expressions of the character you control. The menus and commands are also clear and sharp so it’s never hard to read anything. Understanding how something is done is an entirely different story however.
Human Resource Machine controls very well. Like the other two Tomorrow Corporation titles, it utilizes motion controls with the Joy-Con controller that work very well. The game begins by having you set the Joy-Con on a flat surface while it does a quick calibration. Once it’s done, you’ll pick up the controller and hit the ‘minus’ button to calibrate the center spot on the screen. After this it’ll be like using a Wii Motion Plus remote but with much better accuracy. No sensor bar or anything is needed; the Joy-Con is essentially just using technology to determine where the on-screen cursor should be based on its previous location and the movement that was done. There were many times where I’d need to bump the ‘minus’ button to calibrate the center location again but it only takes a second and instantly addresses the issue.
If you enjoy Human Resource Machine then there’s plenty of content here and you’ll likely even end up replaying it on occasion. I personally didn’t enjoy most of my time with this title. It’s difficult to understand and not rewarding enough to bear the frustration that will likely affect most players in the last two third of the game. The humor and sassy tone are very welcome but I can experience that in Tomorrow Corporation’s previous title Little Inferno and also have fun at the same time. I can see what they were trying to achieve with this title but they just didn’t quite make the landing. More attention should have been focused on teaching and tutorials, especially in the later sections, and perhaps less should have been dedicated to the length, amount of content, or the humor in the game. It’s a funny game and you’ll likely get a few laughs but that’s if you’ll be able to continue playing and progressing through the game. This could be a great educational tool as a companion piece to an applicable class in schools but that’s the only use I could think of this game for it to be an enjoyable experience all the way through. In an educational environment, the thing missing the most from this title to allow the fun to flourish would be present: the proper education and tutorials required for understanding what’s being asked of players.
Human Resource Machine
- Assembly language mixed with puzzle style gameplay can be entertaining at times
- Plenty of content if you enjoy the game
- Great soundtrack injected with energy and creativity
- Difficulty gets overwhelming in last two thirds of the game
- Tutorials fail to teach everything needed to properly progress and enjoy the game
- Even before it's too difficult, satisfaction only happens with puzzle completion and not throughout the entirety of levels