Ever fancied yourself as a games developer, producing titles that can be played by gamers all over the world? Flummoxed by all of the technical jargon and endless lines of code that play out behind the pretty visuals? Indie developers Tomorrow Corporation, the same people behind Wii gems like Little Inferno and World of Goo have now developed an interesting game that tries to introduce you to the growing and complex world of scripting.
In Human Resource Machine you take the role of a new employee starting out at the bottom of some mega corporation. Your job is the sorting and delivering of certain items from a master in pile to the out pile. It’s a simple and mundane job but someone has to do it. When it comes to computers however each step of the task has to be broken down piece by piece before it can go about performing the required task. You’re given a task by your supervisor and using a series of functions it’s up to you to create a workflow for your little drone to perform. Every time you complete a task you are promoted and allowed to ascend the elevator resulting in harder puzzles and newer functions. There’s even the option to take on smaller separate routes which offer a greater challenge again so the task you are given can get you thinking rather creatively. It’s an interesting concept and it at least puts you in the mind-set of a programmer without having to learn a distinct computer language beforehand.
To really give you an idea of what the puzzles in this game involve here’s an example. The supervisor might give you the task of tripling a number of items together before sending them to the outbox. In this case you’ll need to go to the inbox and pick up the first number and place it on the side, from here return to the inbox pick up the next number to take to the last position, add the number your holding with the placed one twice before taking them to the outbox and repeating the process till complete. The puzzles start out simple so you can get the basics of understanding workflows and introduce you to the key functions you’ll need throughout. After those initial steps though it gets complicated very fast, so those who are less tech-savvy are likely to get frustrated quickly. Of course for all the coding gurus out these puzzles may offer a nice little distraction and perhaps even a decent challenge.
Unfortunately while the game is fun it’s not likely to last very long. The whole game (even including submissions) is only made of 38 puzzles. Of course the length then is dependent on players individual skill level. Those new to the coding may be able to make the game last for quite some time whereas those who are more knowledgeable on the subject may be able to work their way through in under an hour.
HRM does a very good job at defining each function so that you know exactly what they do but the real challenge comes from knowing when and where to use them. If you’re really stumped by a conundrum you can tap on your supervisor to try and get some further information from them. However a better option is to utilise the other tabs you’ve been given. It may not sound like much but it’s a handy to have as it’s a great way of troubleshooting your script without losing your original workings. After the initial level other sub challenges come into effect where you have to write a script using a specific number of function or completing a task in number of movements. Both tasks can’t necessarily be completed at once which again is where the three tab option comes in very useful as you can go about optimising your solution to a specific challenge.
If you’ve ever played any of Tomorrow Corporations previous titles you’ll instantly recognise their unique, charming art style. HRM aesthetically is rather simple, there’s not a great deal of detail and the colour pallet is on the bleak side but it really suits the dull workplace environment we find ourselves in. To fit with this style there’s an element of dark humour behind like seeing your drone’s hair recede as they get older. The audio equally has been well produced giving us some relaxed tunes to enjoy while we sit and ponder through complex conundrums. As for Wii U functionalities there’s really no need to bother with the TV here as the entire game is confined to the exclusively to the Wii U’s gamepad. All of the controls are mapped directly to the touchscreen and the television just mirrors the same screen displayed on the pad.
Human Resource Machine is very clever little puzzle game. Coding enthusiasts may find the odd challenge but more likely to breeze through the games 38 puzzles in quick succession. Beginners on the other hand may find themselves bamboozled and frustrated by a lot of the tasks asked of them but it will certainly be an eye opener for some to the complex world of programming.
This review is based off a review code of Human Resource Machine provided by Tomorrow Corporation.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.