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Destroy All Humans! is a celebration of sandbox silliness

When Destroy All Humans! first made human contact back in 2005, open-world games were still in the stone age. They were less realistic and grand in scale, sure, but they made up for it with playfulness and experimentation, giving players the tools to make their own fun. The original Destroy All Humans! embodied this sandbox style, sending you on a cow-tossing, barn-burning rampage across America.

Now, the faithful 2020 remake of the original game recaptures that frontier spirit. Just take a look at this ridiculous compilation of objects and Earth life we’ve been chucking around to get an idea of the kind of tone we’re talking about here.

(Image credit: THQ Nordic)

Like the original, Destroy All Humans! is more of a sandbox compilation than an open-world game. It’s set over six large and distinct areas across America - from rural areas with their fairgrounds and farmsteads all the way to the sunny shores of the West Coast. 

The assortment of weird weapons and mishmash of challenges in each mission speak to the old-school playfulness we were talking about. Do you want to practice your psychokinetic skills by seeing how many cows you can throw into the abucto-beam of a UFO? Do it. Fancy wiping out an entire town using an infectious Brain Extract ability, which spreads from person to person and triggers them to turn on each other? Go right ahead!

There’s something cathartic about a game that’s so committed to the goal of letting you simply mess around. The fact that you can saddle up in your UFO and flatten a whole town within minutes makes it one hell of a stress reliever, and the whimsical way in which you can despatch humans recalls the good old days of GTA rampages (except with a jetpack, rocket-powered skates, and more brains to harvest).

This isn’t the kind of game where you need to spend hours in the wilderness searching for a shovel some peasant asked you to retrieve, it instead offers quick answers crucial questions like ‘how many exploding zombie cows does it take to bring down a ferrous wheel?’ or ‘Can you blow up a tank using a high-velocity chicken?’

(Image credit: THQ Nordic)

In some ways, Destroy All Humans! can be compared to the great pissaround sims like Garry’s Mod and Goat Simulator, but the difference here is that there’s a story to follow too - a zany foul-mouthed revenge tale replete with references to 50s movies and sci-fi. So yes, you can spend all the time you want levelling entire towns with your UFO death ray or mind-controlling hillbilly populations, but there’s always a motive for you to push on.

So whether you want to commit a few hours to fulfilling Crypto-137’s misanthropic quest, or a few minutes wreaking havoc in a vibrant parody of 1950s America, Destroy All Humans! has got you. At a time when so many big games have slowed down the pace and force you to really work your way through the world, Destroy All Humans! breaks the mold by letting you break humanity with relative ease.

You can buy Destroy All Humans now on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One.