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Why Too Human was a complete flop despite the hype

Cyberpunk 2077 wasn't the first sci-fi game to fail to live up to a massive amount of hype built over the course of a years-long development cycle. While there are a number of titles that could be categorized this way, a good example of such a game is Too Human.

Like Cyberpunk, plans for Too Human were ambitious, and the final product failed to deliver on much of the promise implicit in previews of the game. Also like Cyberpunk, reviews for Too Human weren't completely damning. Cyberpunk 2077 for the Xbox One currently holds a Metascore of a 61, while Too Human holds a 65. These are hardly numbers indicative on their own of a disaster. Rather, it was purely a failure to satisfy high expectations that earned each game its reputation as a notorious letdown.

In the case of Too Human, the path from hotly anticipated to recalled entirely was largely the result of its incompetent at best and dictator-like at worst lead designer Denis Dyack.

The only constant was change

Back in the late '90s, Dyack and the rest of the development team at Silicon Knights conceived of Too Human as a multiple disc-spanning RPG for the PS1. The recent-at-the-time smash success of multiple disc-spanning PS1 RPG Final Fantasy 7 may have had something to do with that initial pitch.

Later on in its lengthy development cycle, Too Human was going to be a GameCube release, which made sense given Silicon Knights' past successes on the console with Eternal Darkness and its port of Metal Gear Solid 2. The company's plans changed again, however, and Too Human's final destination became the Xbox 360.

These and other shifts in focus can most likely be attributed at least in part to Dyack. According to a piece by Kotaku, Dyack's work on Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear succeeded largely thanks to the leadership of Nintendo. Without that, the famously volatile Dyack was allowed considerably more control. One source in Kotaku's piece stated simply that, "Once Denis was given more freedom, things started to fall apart."

To err is too human

Though Too Human released to a disappointingly lukewarm critical reception, it would run into its biggest issues post-release. In short, Silicon Knights sued Epic Games during Too Human's development, alleging that Epic had provided them with an inadequate version of their Unreal Engine. However, Epic countersued, alleging that a unique game engine Silicon Knights created after abandoning Unreal used some of Epic's copyrighted code.

Silicon Knights lost that battle and, as a result, were required to recall all copies of the game. Not only had Too Human failed to meet players' expectations, but its ensuing disappearance cemented its status as a certified flop.

Dyack's troubles didn't end with Too Human. The Epic lawsuit also required that all copies of Silicon Knights' X-Men: Destiny, which was also developed using the Unreal Engine, be recalled. Then, a Kickstarter campaign intended to fund a spiritual sequel to Eternal Darkness failed twice.

Too Human's issues may not be solely attributable to Dyack. However, the man whose notorious volatility entailed trolling internet forums and denying that there was ever much misogyny in the video game industry shoulders at least a considerable part of the blame.