Today's randomly selected title from my 538 game backlog (already reduced by over 100!). I'm playing one a day, every day, for as long as I'm furloughed from work...
Human Resource Machine on the PC
Previous days' entries are linked in my profile.
There are games I get in bundles and decide to keep because they sound interesting.
There are games that I buy because they’re bargains, even though I know I’m not going to be able to play them right away.
And then there are games that, bizarrely, I bought excitedly near launch and have no idea why I haven’t yet played them.
Human Resource Machine falls very much into the latter category. I absolutely loved World of Goo, but for some reason, having eagerly anticipated their arrival, both Little Inferno and HRM (from the same close knit publishing team) have lain dormant in my collection for years.
I wish I knew why so I could stop it happening again, because Human Resource Machine is a brilliant game that has unexpectedly devoured the majority of my Sunday.
This game falls into a niche variety of puzzlers that are probably called ‘coders’ or something similar. I’ve had limited exposure until now, with just the excellent ‘Pony Island’ under my belt, but it’s my understanding there were a glut of these a few years back.
Human Resource Machine has you working in various offices throughout an unnamed, gothic styled, corporation. Every level of the game represents a year of your career, and the goal in each is ostensibly the same: Take items from the ‘In’ conveyor belt, process them in the prescribed way, and then place them on the ‘Out’ conveyor on the other side of the room.
When I was a kid I was fond, as were so many others of my age, of leveraging my rudimentary knowledge of BASIC to use two lines of ‘code’ to fill a screen with my swear word du jour, or a witty and disparaging put down aimed at a sibling; “Mark is a Wally” or something similarly acerbic.
Many years later my propensity for logic gates and simple programming helped me pick up VBA in very short order, which in turn helped in my career.
Which all means that Human Resource Machine feels very cyclical to me: Games taught me logic, which got me a job, and now I’m playing a game where you direct your avatar using the kind of work-flow logic gates I used to get paid to bumble through in my real job.
The difference? Human Resource Machine is fun, and the challenge, unlike real work, doesn’t feel like a grind for someone else’s benefit.
It all starts very simply, you arrange labelled tiles to form workflows, set them in action and watch your little character busy themselves putting into action.
The selection of available tiles is gradually and expertly increased until, by the mid-game point that I’ve reached, the flows are nearing 30 tiles in length and the tasks have evolved from simply adding and subtracting to finding ways of using functions that don’t include Multiplication, division, or sort - to multiply, divide, and sort.
It’s the purest kind of logic puzzling. Maths is very much at the forefront, but creativity is equally important thanks to clever restriction of resources that forces you to work around the limitations of the tiles available to you.
And honestly, I don’t have much more to say. This is a purists logic puzzle game with fantastic, highly stylised presentation, and exactly the kind of low key background music necessary to ease the stress of some utterly devious puzzles.
It builds the challenge with speed and fluidity and, if you’re anything like me, ‘a quick game’ will rapidly suck up several hours of your day.
Human Resource Machine - If logic puzzles are your bag then you pretty much need to play this one.