“Earth Wins” reads the screen as the human population slides down to zero, another victory for whatever the opposite of common sense is – the human faction players spent most of their time bickering and slandering each other while the Earth player gradually escalated environmental and ecological issues utterly destroying the population. A pretty standard match in Project Planet – Earth vs Humanity.
Project Planet – Earth Vs Humanity is a simple game at its core, a series of choices play out, some videos and results air, and players have interrupt, boost or spite buttons that they can press between turns. The reason that it all works so well though is because it’s a clever interplay of mobile-for-controls, hidden-input gameplay that leans heavily on social reactions to what’s displaying on the shared screen. Basically, each player has a simple goal: The Earth has to destroy all humans (nice); The human players have to not be destroyed by Earth but, in order to win among the surviving humans they need to have the highest power.
This means that sabotage is on the menu. You can, during your turn as a human, attack other humans or boost your own reputation at the expense of others. Examples include industry raising prices in a crisis, to the detriment of the public, or the media saying that scientists aren’t doing enough. It’s all very fun, and if you play it heavy-handedly then some of the events and interactions are really funny. Being that humans are in a power struggle (and your power also serves as your influence in decision-making) short alliances and rivalries will form, bubble and resolve in the short playtime for each scenario.
Earth’s simple task of destroying all humans isn’t social at all. It’s a strategic affair instead. Aside from picking how to target and escalate the condition (which ranges from a hurricane to famine) you have three extra buttons that allow you to use up your Force resource. You wipe out the humans by either hitting them when they are divided — which can be done at an extreme as a Crisis situation, where players must work together to stop a major escalation — or by impacting the world’s ecology or environment. Notably, you can do positive things to either of these two too, you can spring up a new coral reef, for example, which gives you some force points and improves the world’s ecology. That won’t directly help you in your goal though, instead, you’ll need to hammer the humans with bad news like oil spills, dust clouds and worse.
The way this works is that the Ecology and Environment trackers are sliders which control a resting level of dying humans each turn. If you can drop both sliders to critical then there’s no coming back, but the humans will be trying to stop this while they deal with the central crisis. As Earth your goal is to create a kind of domino effect of destruction, with the humans too busy squabbling over resources and infighting for them to realise that The Bees Are Dead, The Coral Reef is Gone, The Hurricane has Destroyed the Commerical District, Where are the Fish? It’s actually incredibly easy to do this, especially if — and I think this might be the main flaw aside from limited content — you boost one of the sliders continually while hammering the other.
Project Planet – Earth Vs Humanity is an incredibly fun asymmetric multiplayer game about ecological disaster and human infighting. I don’t think I’ve played a game quite like it before. I’ve had victory snatched from me by the bloody media slandering my politicking, I’ve had Industry do, well, typical capitalist stuff like limiting emergency supplies to simulate scarcity and turn a profit, and I’ve had humanity unite at the last moment and scrape through right at the end, just like in a disaster movie.
At current there are only a couple of disaster scenarios included, with a few to follow after release. The disasters, while thematically central to the game, are more flavour than anything else, and the fighting that comes as a result is the actual entertainment value, however it does mean that there’re only a limited number of ‘Media Reports’ (which is a great pace-setter) that can appear mid-game to direct player attention to new concerns.
Project Planet – Earth Vs Humanity is available now for PC.