Too Human drops a juicy plot development at the most inopportune time: its very end. It's the obvious manner of setting up a sequel, the infamous "to be continued..." we've come to expect from television shows and, yes, even some modern video games. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it exemplifies the core experience of this action/role-playing hybrid. Too Human is a game of false starts and unrealized potential that infiltrate almost every aspect of the game, from story, to combat, to balance. Its elements feel stitched together, making for a patchwork quilt of a game that's fraying at the seams.
If you want to make sense of the story, it helps to know your Norse mythology.
As for the dangling story threads, the disappointment is compounded by the thin narrative that leads to them. Too Human is a retelling of Norse mythology with a cybernetic twist, in which the gods are bionically enhanced humans protecting common men and women from the onslaught of Loki's army of machines. There's some backstory to wrap your head around, and Too Human drops you into the world with little sensible exposition. A good narrative doesn't need to spoon-feed plot points to you, but Too Human would have benefited from a better introduction to its unusual universe. The game does offer a few meaty moments, many of them involving Hel, Loki's beautifully twisted daughter. Yet ultimately the story rings hollow because developer Silicon Knights expects you to fill in the gaps on your own.
You play as Baldur, one of those gods. You'll take on four main missions during the meager 10-hour story and while Baldur has a number of different goals, the process is the same: beat up a bunch of mechanical monstrosities en route to an end boss. The trek is linear, taking you through a series of large environments that cover the usual science-fiction standards. You'll also spend some time in Aesir, your home base, where you're able to purchase weapons and armor, and continue the story between combat sorties. These areas have a commonality: They are too big. This isn't an issue when you are beating up hordes of robotic beasts, but when you aren't fighting, Too Human slows to an insufferable crawl. Aesir in particular is unnecessarily vast and underpopulated. As you make the long, boring walk to find out your next mission, or move to the next wave of monsters, it's hard not to wonder if there was supposed to be more stuff there. It's one of many examples of Too Human's most glaring deficiency: poor pacing.
You'll also make a few trips to an idyllic world known as cyberspace, which you access via glistening pools scattered around the levels. As you explore cyberspace, you will learn new abilities that you can only use there, such as being able to telepathically lift doors or set vegetation ablaze. You unlock new areas in the main world when you visit cyberspace, and you find some interesting loot, but these visits don't flow from the gameplay proper, and they slow things down too much. And, like the rest of the areas that you visit, this pastoral realm feels too large, particularly because you're not really doing anything there except walking and occasionally pressing a button. It's not engaging and ultimately feels unnecessary.
The good news is that when you are in the thick of combat, you'll find yourself having some fun. There are five different classes at your disposal, but regardless of which you choose at the outset, you can use both melee and ranged weapons. Close combat is where the game shines, and in those moments it plays like an action game with a control-focused twist. Rather than mashing buttons to swing your dual swords or bash your hammer, you press the right analog stick in a certain direction and connect with the closest enemy in that area. Provided that you're within range of a target, you will actually slide in that direction; at later levels, zooming among techno-goblins and slicing them up in this manner is easily Too Human's greatest thrill. There are also some other stick-based tricks at your disposal: Using the left and right analog sticks in combination, you can toss enemies into the air and juggle them, or fling magic energy in their direction.
The action is sometimes fun, but you'll never get into a groove.
The resulting mayhem looks more like an action game in the vein of Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, though it doesn't really play that way. Nevertheless, it works well some of the time, and Baldur will slip and slide around as you hold and tap the sticks, carving up lesser enemies without much effort. At other times, you'll swing at nothing in particular, though it seems that you're aiming the stick in the right direction and that the enemy is clearly in range. Although it isn't the heart-pounding array of button-based combos that you'd see in a more traditional action game, you'll still sometimes find morsels of that smooth groove so important to action RPGs.
Unfortunately, Too Human never maintains that groove for long. You have guns to shoot--pistols and rifles--but using them isn't as satisfying as using melee weapons, even if you are playing as a commando, the primary ranged-based class. They can be fun when used in conjunction with melee attacks, such as juggling a foe from a distance after launching him into the air with your staff. But the targeting system is unintuitive and sometimes broken, failing to lock on to an enemy even if there are monsters in range and directly in front of you. Should you try to switch targets, you may target an enemy outside your field of view, or find yourself shooting at nothing at all. Oddly, if you keep the trigger pressed after you've killed your target, the reticle stays pasted to the corpse instead of flipping to another target, so you need to switch targets manually, even after your victim has already fallen.