Robot Odyssey was one of my favorite games growing up, so I do have a soft spot for programming-based games; so I decided to give Human Resource Machine a try.

Unfortunately, Human Resource Machine is no Robot Odyssey. The adventure game aspects are missing: no world to explore (or even to view, really: the give you cut scenes but they add nothing to the game), and the programs that you’re supposed to write feel like they could be taken straight out of assembly code tutorials. Except it’s even worse than that, because the language is crippled both in terms of primitives and in terms of a complete lack of modularity: writing divide / remainder code via repeated subtraction is interesting enough to do once, but when they give you puzzles that build on that, it would be really nice to either have that as a primitive operation or to be able to paste in chunks of code that you’ve already gotten. Also, the challenges in terms of fewest lines of code written are fun (but usually easy, it was almost always the case that my initial answer met that challenge), but the challenges to accomplish something in the fewest instructions executed frequently devolved to loop unrolling, which gets boring quickly, especially without an ability to copy and paste sections of code.

Having said that: the presentation was charming, the interface was good other than the issues above, and it was pleasantly short. So I enjoyed spending three or so hours with it, going through all the puzzles except for the last optional challenge puzzle. But it wasn’t what I had hoped for.

Post Revisions:

This post has not been revised since publication.