Human Resource Machine (Switch eShop) Review
Tomorrow Corporation has had a long history with Nintendo, debuting their first game World of Goo on the WiiWare service back in 2008, and now for the Switch have ported over all three of their games. I had never played Human Resource Machine prior, as ironically I could never decide if I wanted it portable or on console making it a no brainer on Switch!
Human Resource Machine is a game about teaching you less about programming, and instead how to think like a programmer- which involves overcomplicating everything and have it crash and burn, in my case anyway. The gameplay is simple, you are given an objective to send to the outbox, and a bunch of random numbers that come from head office on a conveyor belt referred to as the Inbox. You are given a handful of basic commands like copyto, add, subtract, jump, and more complex commands like bump, jump if zero etc.
Using these commands, and a grid on the floor where you can copy numbers from the inbox, to hold, equate values, multiply etc it builds the basis of a very simple to understand the game, while getting the challenge just right. Sometimes I flew through levels where you need to only outbox values that are higher than 0, and struggle with others that require you to only send positive numbers to the outbox which means creating negatives into positives first. One time the game even called me out where my code worked for that exact instance of values, but wouldn’t let me pass due to it failing on other possible values.
For completionists, there are two bonus challenges you can complete while solving a puzzle, using a certain number of commands, and completing the level in under a certain number of steps. Thankfully as the two at times (in later levels especially) negate each other, you are given 3 notepads to put your code in so you don’t have to completely start over every time. You can even copy and paste your code from a previous level and adapt it to the objective. You can also have labels that you can draw on to help identify sections or aspects of your code if you get confused.
In between some of the game’s levels are little cutscenes that are in the same style to their previous titles, World of Goo & Little Inferno. This is the main way you get the story of the game, other than direct talk from your manager who gives you the day’s objective. The whole aesthetic of the game is full of charm and mind numbingly boring head office speak that it really makes you feel like a mindless drone climbing the corporate ladder (at least one who’s also bad at maths like myself)
Playing this game on the Switch’s touch screen is a blast. It’s easily the best way to play. However, if you do want to flick it over to the TV the way Tomorrow Corporation have implemented pointer controls on the Joy-Con is marvellous. Simply place the Joy-Con down on a flat surface and after a few sounds, you have a fully calibrated Wii remote type situation. Both control schemes work great so whether you like to play docked or on the toilet, this one is for you.
While Human Resource Machine has made me want to throw my Switch across the room in frustration, it’s got a very fair and understanding difficulty curve which is very important for a game like this. Even if you’re awful at maths like me Human Resource Machine is a must buy for anyone looking to kill a few hours in between Mario Karting sessions.