Maybe the robot revolution would actually be pretty fun.
Every single job has been automated and robots have completely replaced humans in the workforce. Faced with record-breaking unemployment rates, the robots come up with a solution: a giant office building that can provide menial tasks to be completed by the world’s 7 Billion Humans.
This is the future imagined by Tomorrow Corporation’s sequel to their previous title, Human Resource Machine. Like its predecessor, 7 Billion Humans is a puzzle game designed around the fundamental logic of computer programming. Each puzzle is a series of tasks for the office’s humans to perform such as organizing numbered cubes from highest to lowest or finding the lowest-numbered cube and disposing of it. Like a computer, each Human is stupid and can only do exactly what it’s told in the exact order that it’s told. Where Human Resource Machine tasked the player with managing a single human, 7 Billion Humans tasks them with a whole group of humans. Every human follows the same commands in the same order, so they need to be programmed carefully to get where they need to go without moving other humans out of place. Tomorrow Corporation has improved upon Human Resource Machine’s foundation in pretty much every way while bringing enough new to the table that it never feels like they’re treading old ground.
Puzzles are solved using commands similar to basic functions in computer programming and new commands are regularly introduced. “If” commands limit humans to only carrying out commands under certain conditions. “Jump” commands send a human’s current position in the program to another specific command. As puzzles and programs get more complicated, new commands and mechanics are added such as a memory slot that can be used to store numbers and item locations. Unless you’ve got programming experience, this all might sound like a lot to take in. Thankfully, 7 Billion Humans slowly teaches players how its logic works through simple tutorial puzzles. If you’re not sure why a program is failing, you can slowly walk through the commands step-by-step to find the exact moment everything breaks down. Everything is set up perfectly to ensure that absolutely no programming experience is needed to succeed.
If a puzzle was too easy for you, you can try to optimize your program by having it complete the task in as little time as possible or with as few commands as possible. Clearing the optimization challenges is brutally difficult; even the simplest programs can feel impossible to improve upon. After clearing about half the puzzles, I went back and tried to optimize some of the earliest programs I made, and while I could always find one or two redundant commands to cut out I was left utterly stumped for almost every challenge. Perhaps a seasoned coder would see a fairer challenge in optimizing programs, but for me they might have been too difficult. Thankfully they’re entirely optional, so there’s nothing to miss out on if simply getting a program to finish properly is satisfying enough for you.
Though 7 Billion Humans was designed primarily around touch controls, it’s possible to play the game entirely docked. Though the Pro Controller and Joy-Con grip aren’t supported, pointer controls are available through the Joy-Con’s gyroscope. The pointer controls work well for the most part; there’s some issues with the calibration drifting off-center, but that can be fixed easily with the press of a button. Docked play is functional enough, but it definitely feels a lot better playing on the touch screen in handheld or tabletop mode. Navigating through a program can be a little unwieldy as you adjust specific Jump loops or If statements and pointing with the Joy-Con always felt like it was slowing me down too much.
Just like Human Resource Machine before it, 7 Billion Humans is one of the finest puzzle games I’ve ever played. A game based around programming logic runs the risk of being too complicated for its own good, but Tomorrow Corporation has fine-tuned the difficulty curve perfectly. Scrolling through a program and finding the exact command that needs to changed to carry out the exact right action is as fun as it can possibly be and with over 60 unique puzzles I doubt I’ll be putting it down anytime soon.