App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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On a ranked list of all the tired sci-fi tropes out there, rogue artificial intelligence has to be near the top. This has not stopped droves of game developers from using it as the conceit for their releases, though, with Hello Human being the most recent one to hit the App Store. This puzzle game is full of levels that subvert your expectations, and it's a fun little romp for what it is, tired trope and all.
Hello Human presents players with a bleak, monochromatic interface that is one part puzzle area and two parts communication system. There is a friendly-looking digital face on one of the communication screens, and it "speaks" to you using text on the other one. In between these two is your play area, which morphs into all kinds of puzzles that the AI wants you to complete, though the reason for doing this isn't entirely clear.
The first couple puzzles make Hello Human seem like it'll be a totally straightforward game, but at a certain point your chatty AI friend starts intentionally upping the challenge and trying to thwart your success in a way that feels very much like GLaDOS in Valve's Portal. It's not an entirely unexpected turn, but it's also what ends up being the driving force of Hello Human's gameplay.
Cheat the system
In response to your AI's tricks, you have to think outside of the box and--in some cases--cheat to beat levels. In some ways, these subversive puzzles feel a bit like hap Inc.'s games like Hidden my game by mom and Mr Success, though Hello Human is feels slightly darker in tone than those titles.
Finding the novel trick of each Hello Human is where the fun is here. Some use your phone's built-in hardware, while others take some of the simpler puzzles from the beginning of the game and flip them in weird ways that you don't expect. The only time this ever feels tedious is when you figure out the trick only to find that executing the solution is harder than it should be. Thankfully, this only happens a handful of times when playing.
Hello Human is a pretty brief experience, but that's probably for the best. Across the 40 or so levels it has to offer, it starts to run out of steam. In particular, the last couple levels attempt to stretch some of its earlier puzzle ideas in ways the game has a hard time pulling off well.
After you complete the game, you can hop back into any previously completed level at any time, but there isn't much value there. The surprise of each new puzzle really is Hello Human's one trick. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but just know that going into the experience.
The bottom line
Hello Human fun enough for what it is. It's short-form, surprise puzzles are the right balance of novel and mysterious, plus they fit the rogue AI conceit well. There isn't much of Hello Human, nor much reason to play it once you're done, but that's ok. It's still a nice, short puzzle game that doesn't try your patience too much.