Human Resource Machine (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Ofisil 18.03.2017 2

Review for Human Resource Machine on Nintendo Switch

Tomorrow Corporation is worthy of a slow applause. It hasn't made a masterpiece yet, but it's a developer that stands out in a very good way, both because of its stylistic consistency, but more importantly due to its original and fun ideas, as evident from World of Goo and Little Inferno (which also is on Wii U). It's newest creation, Human Resource Machine (take a look at its PC version here and Wii U edition here), is, thankfully, one more example of the developer's penchant for titles that are short, simple, and cheap, and, yet, very innovative and fun. Even better? It now has a Nintendo Switch port!

You don't have to be a hardcore puzzle aficionado to realise one simple thing: most puzzle games are quite similar, no matter the sub-genre they belong to. Human Resource Machine's awesomeness lies not in how it's anything but a rehash of old and tired mechanics, though, but mostly in how it takes its inspiration from real programming. Those who have a slight knowledge of what programming looks like are probably running away in terror right now, but Tomorrow Corporation has actually managed to create an extremely accessible game out of this concept.

Accessible, however, doesn't necessarily mean easy, and this puzzler is definitely made for those who enjoy squeezing their brain - but more on that later. The central idea is that a conveyor belt throws a bunch of numbers and letters at you, and these must be sent to another conveyor belt in a certain way. These two belts are named Inbox and Outbox, and in order to move characters between them, there is a need to actually "write" a few lines of code, by placing a couple of commands in a list; commands that "run" when the "program" starts.

Screenshot for Human Resource Machine on Nintendo Switch

It sounds complex, but it isn't. For starters, the UI is very easy to understand and handle, as writing code simply means dragging-and-dropping commands from a menu to a list. Secondly, this starts in a very beginner-friendly way, with simple commands like Inbox and Outbox that take a character and send it to the right, or Add and Sub that make additions and subtractions, with each stage adding one more command. Note, however, that this was clearly meant to be played with touch-screen controls, as the Joy-Con motion sensor can feel a bit awkward (and tiring), especially when in tabletop mode.

Moving on, like with real programming, those in control can really do wonders with only a handful of well-placed commands… something that also means that after a few levels, Human Resource Machine can get quite hard. In fact, like World of Goo (and possibly even more so), it has a pretty steep learning curve, which means that each level can make you feel like having just started the whole ordeal. Furthermore, the heavy logic-based nature is evident in how, again, like real programming, the solution must work no matter the characters at hand; therefore, since the game throws random characters around, there's no easy way around the problem.

Screenshot for Human Resource Machine on Nintendo Switch

Of course, the head scratchers provided here will make the more casual amongst puzzle fans turn this off. Those who will stay, however, will surely enjoy this no matter what, as it's a puzzler that really gets the cogs turning and, thus, "defeating" it gives a strong feeling of reward. If there's one big flaw here, though, it would be the low replay value. There are only a few puzzles available, and once they are done, they are simply done.

Sure, OCD'ers can go back and try completing a stage with fewer steps, but even these challenges won't really help much in terms of longevity, especially as most gamers (especially those with a programming background) will actually finish most levels in the "right" way. Of course, and besides the fact that this is once again a very cheap product, like most Tomorrow Corporation's titles, there's something more here than just the actual game.

Screenshot for Human Resource Machine on Nintendo Switch

Typical of the team, this uses a very distinctive cartoony visual style that's hard not to like, even though it is certainly not everyone's cup of goo… err, tea. The cherry on top of it all, however, is the plot. Sure, this is just a puzzler, so don't expect a Final Fantasy-like masterpiece, but it's surprisingly enjoyable, albeit, tiny in length.

Once again, behind the goofy character design and mundane backgrounds lies a story that's surprisingly dark, as well as deeply satirical and thought-provoking; a story that starts with light-hearted nods to the intricacies of corporate life, and soon delves into the subject of humanity's dangerous, and constantly increasing reliance on machines. Hey, it's not Deus Ex, but it pulls that off pretty well.

Screenshot for Human Resource Machine on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Similar to the actual programming idea from whence this takes inspiration from, Human Resource Machine is "easy" to learn but, at the same time, quite hard to correctly apply the acquired knowledge. While this basically means that it can lead to some frequent hair-pulling, and although this is not an experience that will last for long, most puzzle fans are strongly advised to try out Tomorrow Corporation's latest release now it's on Nintendo Switch.

Developer

Tomorrow Corporation

Publisher

Tomorrow Corporation

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I've still not had chance to try this one, sadly, but it looks very intriguing indeed!

Did you find that the Joy-Con needed regular recalibration? That happened in WoG, but thankfully only took a split second to fix each time.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Not really a fun of using the Joy-Con motion sensor to play either games, especially this one... but at least it dorked ok.

A lot of quotes in the Internet are attributed to the wrong person
                                -Georgios Karaiskakis

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