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Video Game / Too Human

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Frey: The end is coming, Heimdall.
Heimdall: Then let it come! We shall meet it with weapons in hand and joy in our hearts! Our lives belong to ODIN!

Too Human is a 2008 Action RPG developed by Silicon Knights and published by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox 360.

The plot is a science-fiction take on Norse Mythology, with its characters and events forming the basis for human gods, monsters and legends. The Æsir Corporation and its cybernetically enhanced rulers stand watch over what little remains of humanity during the last days of an ongoing war against sentient machines whose motivations are left unclear at best. Baldur — seen by the humans as less distant and aloof than his fellow "gods" — leads a hunt for a particularly nasty robot, GRNDL-1, and is drawn into a larger plot tied to the mystery of his wife's death.

Planned to be a trilogy, the game released to mixed reception and underperformed commercially, preventing any sequels that would conclude the myriad of dangling plot threads. More importantly, however, is the title's role in its developer's bankruptcy. Silicon Knights blamed negative press reaction to early Too Human gameplay on Epic Games for giving them an incomplete version of Unreal Engine 3, claiming it hurt the game's development. Epic not only won the case after it was made clear Silicon Knights knew exactly what they were getting to with the early version of UE3, but they also successfully counter-sued when it was discovered that the supposed proprietary engine that the developer moved Too Human to stole code from Epic's game engine. In addition to now owing millions in damages and legal fees, the court ordered all copies of this game (and any other games that used the stolen code) destroyed and the game purged from all online stores; with nothing to their name, the studio shut down.

Despite this, in June 2019, Too Human surprisingly became one of the last Xbox 360 titles made backwards compatible for the Xbox One, being re-released on the Xbox Games Store for free.

Too Human provides examples of:

  • After the End: The current frozen state of the world is stated to be the result of a 3000 year nuclear winter caused by a war between the still functioning machines of a long dead warring nation and the rest of the world and antimatter weaponry.
  • A.I.-cronym: Multiple:
    • ODIN (Organically Distributed Intelligence Network)
    • NORNs (Non Organic Rational Nanosystems).
  • The All-Seeing A.I.: ODIN (Organically Distributed Intelligence Network) is presented as this, leading the Aesir and represented as a disembodied voice that addresses all of Asgard which everyone else worships and serves. It manages to view anything around and outside its domain through cybernetic ravens.
  • And I Must Scream: Loki is seen for much of the story being trapped in a simulation machine and forced to suffer mentally through a simulation of him having acidic snake venom poured on his face. Despite this, he can still project his mind into Cyberspace to masquerade as one of the Norns.
  • Ammunition Backpack: Robotic example: some of the 'Troll' class enemies use heavy Grenade Launchers, and wear huge, cylindrical ammo-canisters on their back to supply them. These are somewhat problematic, since their presence prevents you from doing your 'jump up on their shoulders and stab them in the neck' insta-kill, and they're hard to destroy since the Trolls always turn to face you ... hence, the grenade-launching Trolls winds up being much more dangerous than their hammer-wielding brothers, but not because of their attack-range...
  • Amnesiac Hero: Baldur is this.Having been shot in the head by a misguided Hod and resurrected by the Aesir with facial scars. He spends much of the game having an identity crises over his missing memories and tries to piece together the story of his life.
  • Anti-Villain: Hod. He may have killed Baldur and gone rogue while killing any of the Aesir's forces that went to capture him, but he had been manipulated the whole time and had been trying to kill Loki but was tricked into only seeing Loki through his bionic eye piece. He was actually a quite loyal member of the Aesir who believed the Aesir should be the humans' protectors, but was tricked by Loki into killing Baldur and had only killed anyone else because he was under the delusion the forces that came after him were serving Loki.
  • Awesomeness Meter: The combo meter. It fills as the player dispatches enemies using varying techniques. The more complex the action, the more combo earned. Combo can then be spent on room-nuking attacks or spells that act as buffs (increasing attack speed, bullet damage, etc.). So the game magic is fueled by Rule of Cool.
  • Badass Boast: Half of Thor's dialogue consists of this. Some of what Balder remarks to his enemies would count if they weren't more likely promises rather than exaggeration. See To the Pain below.
    Wolf: Who knows? We might come across something uglier than a berserker.
    Bjorn: Don't count on it Wolf! Monsters tell stories of ME to frighten their children.
  • BFS: Several of Baldur's two-handed swords are about his height.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Hel uses an Old Norse phrase, "Ves Heill"note , to congratulate Baldur on his resurrection and progress as she drinks wine from a skull.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Heavy on the Bitter bordering on just being a downer ending. The game ends with Hel and Helheim being destroyed causing the deceased from battles to now roam the Earth as ravenous zombies. Balder has avenged his wife's death but now is facing doubts due to being an undead being and the fact the theft of his body from Helheim started the conflict to begin with. Loki is free and has escaped to lead the army of machines and giants against the Aesir. The humans now trust the Aesir far less than they already did before and the Aesir's forces are weakened after the Helheim invasion. The game was supposed to be part one of a trilogy, but due to legal complications, the story ends with a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Blown Across the Room: Goblins and other small enemies tend to fly away in random directions when killed with ballistics. What makes this odd is the complete lack of reaction from every bullet except the last one - the killing bullet will cause the enemy to go cartwheeling across the room, often bouncing into walls. Thank you, Havok.
  • Break the Cutie: Nyanna. After Baldur's initial death, she was Driven to Suicide in despair but was resurrected by the Aesir, only to commit suicide again and again. When the Aesir could do no more for her, they dumped her in Helfheim, only for Hel to use her for twisted immortality experiments with Nidhogg. This only resurrected her and drove her to repeatedly commit suicide with no success due to Nidhogg rapidly healing her wounds.
  • Cannot Self Terminate: Nyanna, Baldur's wife, constantly attempts to commit suicide by slashing her own wrists due to constant physical and emotional pain, but Nidhogg keeps healing her wounds.
  • Character Customization: Through the Class and Level System and Point Build System, as well as cutomizable armor pieces.
  • The Chessmaster: Loki.
  • Class and Level System: Combined with a Point Build System. Baldur can be one of five classes, each of which has a skill tree. As the player gains levels points can be spent to traverse the trees, providing several benefits. Additionally, the player can also choose an alignment that provides another tree with more (but different) upgrades.
  • Colossus Climb: Taking down Trolls requires either wearing down their shoulders, arms, and legs individually; or climbing up their back and plunging a blade into the beast's head.
  • Condescending Compassion: Despite having benevolent intentions towards the rest of humanity, the Aesir often come off as considerably haughty and condescending towards the humans they are protecting. They are often shown describing the people under their protection as weak, defenseless, and purposeless masses that are only given structure, definition, and purpose by the Aesirs' guidance. This behavior is what causes many human soldiers to join Loki in rebellion. A notable example would be that of Heimdall who argues against Freyr's assertions that the humans would eventually lose hope in the Aesir after seeing how eagerly the Aesir slaughtered Loki's dissenters despite being protectors of humans and the fact the Aesir continue to fail to restore the world from its thousands of years of winter.
  • Continuing is Painful: When you die, after the death animation you're dumped right back into the fight with no loss of progress, but on the other hand, your equipment is damaged and your combo meter is reset to zero, meaning if you're in a bad situation, you have fewer resources to deal with it than before you died. Also, the cutscene is completely unskippable. This in and of itself can also be considered a punishment of sorts.
  • Coup de Grâce Cutscene: On Hod and Hel. Separately, of course.
  • Crapsack World: The current state of the world is that of a frozen wasteland caused by a 3000 year nuclear winter caused by a war between the still functioning machines of a long dead warring nations of crazy humans and the rest of the world and antimatter weaponry. There are mechanical monsters roaming everywhere ready to kill any human they see, except for in the last sanctuary city of Asgard protected by the Aesir. Asgard itself is caught in a Forever War with these monsters and suffer from dwindling resources and manpower as tensions build between humanity and the Aesir who fail to uphold their oath of returning the Earth to its former state. Meanwhile, a rogue Aesir is planning on kickstarting the end of humanity and reigning supreme or die in the process.
  • Crate Expectations: Various containers are scattered through the levels, conferring money or health. Very rarely they can also drop epic (read: very very rare) items.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: The last two levels suffer from some of this, as they just drag on and on.
  • Cyberpunk: Midgard is essentially a cyberpunk world ruled by a MegaCorp, cybernetic augmentation and artificial intelligence are significant technologies.
  • Disney Death: Thor kinda pulls one off. But it was all just a lie, as it happened when Baldur got into cyberspace, and "got out" of it when in reality he was in a simulation of the real world during his time in cyberspace. Notably, Mimir also goes crazy during this fake reality segment.
  • Dynamic Loading: Loading is done behind cutscenes between levels and dynamically during levels. You'll only see loading screens by skipping cutscenes or jumping right to levels in online multiplayer.
  • Energy Weapon: One of the ammo types. Averts several problems, as they hit instantly and have no recoil. When using Laser ammo, guns "heat up" to full damage - the longer held on an enemy, the more damage (up to a cap) they do. Watching the damage ramp up on the scrolling damage meter is often very satisfying.
  • Evil Empire: YMIR would be this as they are responsible for all the suffering that led to the current events of the story. It was once a cruel and bloodthirsty foremost leading nation of humans hungering for planetary domination that originally created the machines to instigate a cruel and unnecessary war against other nations to take over the planet. As such, it instigated a machine war by creating complex humanoid killing machines to fight their war of domination versus the other nations. YMIR lost the war and after its defeat, the children of the YMIR, the machines, continued to fight the war against humanity, creating a never ending winter of war when antimatter weapons used during the war caused an artificial global snowstorm.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Loki when he feels he's winning. He even quoted Oppenheimer's "Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds" when he got control of the World Serpent ship.
  • Evil Weapon: Fenrir, Baldur's bloodthirsty and aggressive sword that was made from the mind of a cybernetic monster created by Loki and combined with Aesir-Giant technology that took Tyr's hand and was sealed within a blade. The blade constantly tries to attack others and its wielder and even slays the resurrected Nyanna when Baldur could not.
  • Exposition Break: Between levels, and even during levels. There's a reason the story is excised in online multiplayer.
  • A God Am I: All the Aesir, though they're a rather benevolent lot.
  • Guide Dang It!: The explanations for your movesets are either poorly done, occasionally incorrect, or flatout missing in at least one case. Did you know Baldur can fire out ghost wolf projectiles with a sword swing, great for bowling through weaker enemies lined up together and unrestricted in use? Because the game never explains how to do it.
  • The Hecate Sisters: The NORNs.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Nietzsche quote for this trope is directly stated in one trailer. From a work separate from the Literary Allusion Title, however. However, the story does propose the issue of whether a cybernetic human can still retain their humanity in its war against machines and whether humanity can still be retained in the wake of becoming more like the enemy.
  • High-Tech Heaven: The Norse gods are actually technological "magic" in this setting.
  • Hot-Blooded: Baldur. Thor is at Leeroy Jenkins levels to the point he nearly tried to get himself and Baldur killed to destroy a dangerous ship despite the fact that Baldur clearly mentioned their deaths would weaken the Aesir's forces.
  • Hypocrite: The Aesir are described as this based on their treatment of Loki. Notably with the case of Fenrir, who Loki brought back from Jotenheim and was killed to seal within a blade. Afterwards, Loki was forever left as a pariah, but the Aesir still kept the blade and gave it to Baldur because they believed it's better they controlled it than an enemy.
  • Immortality Seeker: Hel is this in addition to Evilutionary Biologist, being forced to used human corpses sent to her realm to keep her body alive which only prolongs her life for months at a time. Her research on the nanomachines of Niddhog was meant to make her immortal.
  • Instant 180-Degree Turn: Not all of Baldur's animations are smooth, especially this one. Jumping while moving the stick in circles as quickly as possible makes Baldur pirouette several times in midair.
  • Insult Backfire: Thor tries to engage in Slut-Shaming during a banquet towards Freya by claiming she Really Gets Around and slept with every man in the room, Aesir and Mortal alike. Freya doesn't deny it but cheerfully fires back that she never slept with Thor, much to his embarrassment.
  • Involuntary Group Split: After Thor's Disney Death. Though, he gets better.
  • Last Bastion: Midgard acts as the last human sanctuary of survival in the wake of the nuclear winter of the world of Too Human and the stronghold of the Aesir to fight against the multitude of threats that are trying to bring it down.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Played straight. It's saved many a life mid-battle.
  • Literary Allusion Title: To Friedrich Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human.
  • Losing Your Head: Mimir, like in the myth, reduced to a head after being hacked limb from limb during a field mission.
  • Magic Is Feminine: Alluding back to Norse mythology, Thor loudly proclaims that the magic of the setting is essentially Clarke's Third Law, where control over technology and cyberspace are equated to being the "magic" of the setting. The belief that such skills are reserved for women alone is still mentioned by Thor, who prefers to just smash things with his hammer.
    Thor: Ha! All this talk of cyberspace and spirits! Superstition, I say! 'Tis women's work, Baldur! Leave it to them!
  • Manipulative Bastard: Loki, of course. Everything that occurred in the story was a result of a massive gambit that included war against Helheim and the death of his own daughter Hel, all to facilitate a human coup to allow him to escape confinement, discredit the Aesir, weaken their forces, and get to Jotenheim to kick off Ragnarok.
  • MegaCorp: Æsir Corporation, although it's a rather benevolent MegaCorp.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Listening to Loki's dialogue, one uncovers that Loki chose to betray the Aesir because they never gave him an ounce of respect or trust, turned him into an "anathematic child of Giant and Aesir Technology", defamed his character and reputation, constantly fought his ideas, and destroyed his dreams.
  • Monsters Everywhere: Absolutely everywhere. Except cyberspace and Asgard.
  • More Dakka: A slug rifle in the hands of a Human Commando, with rate of fire and ricochet maxed and additional Metalstorm charms, can fire and kill entire rooms faster than the game can render the bullets. Add in another player in co-op, and well... yeah.
  • Nanomachines: What Nidhogg the Devourer basically is in the game. It seeks out and consumes dead organic materials such as flesh and blood and regurgitates it as a living entity.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As revealed in the later half of the story, the Aesir's dedication to bringing Baldur back from the dead after his untimely death caused them to break the Pact of the Fallen that forbids the dead from being taken from Hel's realm. This act eventually kicks off the entire conflict of the game, something Baldur acknowledges and lambasts them for in the ending.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Each alignment gets a different skill for this, and the effects can be given to anyone via Charms.
    • With Metalstorm (Human), bullets ricochet and can hit additional enemies the character's ballistic distance away. That is, entire rooms away. And proc effects go with them, so it can happen again. On every bullet. This can happen with grenades as well.
    • Cybernetic characters get pass-through, which lets bullets pass through opponents, hitting others behind them. Not as fun, but still useful.
  • One-Man Army: You are supported by human soldiers, but all they seem to do is talk in the background and get killed. Occasionally shooting something.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Goblins, trolls, elves - all robots.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Lampshaded by Baldur himself. The Aesir's battle against Helheim may have ended in the death of Hel, but the battle cost the life of Tyr, the only one among the Aesir who could understand the technology of the sentient weapons that the Aesir are at war with, the dead of Helheim now walk the Earth at constantly resurrecting ravenous zombies because of the Niddhog nanomachines, and Loki now runs free to collaborate with the Giants to kick off Ragnarok and destroy Asgard.
  • Randomly Drops: And they're drawn to the player magnetically. Auto-looting at its finest.
  • RPGs Equal Combat: The only way to gain EXP is to fight. And fight you will.
  • Rule of Cool: Played to the hilt, for example with Baldur able to "juggle" enemies in midair with the stream of bullets from his gun. These kinds of moves also charge a combo meter that can be used to activate special abilities, making those abilities literally powered by cool.
  • Run, Don't Walk: Baldur runs by default, and slowing him down to a walk via the control stick makes him walk incredibly slowly.
  • Sadly Mythcharacterized: The Jormungandr is a type of massive war machine created by Ymir, of which only one survives to the time of the game. In the original myths, Jormungandr is a gigantic serpent coiling around the world keeping it together, and Ymir is already dead by the time Jormungandr's parents are born.
  • Ship Sinking: Baldur was implied to have a passionate romance with Freya in the past, but chose to give his love to his late wife Nyanna. After Nyanna's death, Baldur and Freya admit lingering feelings for one another that Baldur chooses to put behind them at Freya's displeasure, which promptly ends on Baldur's part when Freya admits she helped plan the scheme that brought Baldur back from death which kickstarted the problems of the story.
  • Sidetrack Bonus: One of the best ways to get epic loot is to go off the beaten path. A few places mid-level, but the World Tree is one giant sidetrack with several loot-dropping obelisks in it.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: The machines never stop attacking. Though... they sometimes do win.
  • To the Pain:
    Balder: All the pain and cruelty you inflicted, I will carve into your flesh. Your agonized shrieks shall be your only monument!
  • Unbreakable Weapons: Interesting mix with Breakable Weapons: weapons and armor do not degrade with use, but instead lose durability at death. When durability reaches zero, weapon strikes only do damage based on Baldur's strength, and armor pieces no longer offer any protection. Both can be repaired at shops. Given that gear typically has enough durability for at least 15+ deaths, it's obvious the designers knew the player would die many, many, times.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Part of Baldur's backstory, also the Valiant Warriors/Einherjar made from the soldiers fallen in battle and retrieved by the Valkyries. In addition, Hel reanimates corpses as technological zombies.