By Vincent Haoson (Ojogo)
If there’s a game genre that I try to avoid as much as I can, it’s the horror suspense genre. I get spooked really easily. And well, I have issues with horror in general, call it trauma or something. However, with that said, I have this weird fascination with games that allow you to face these horror creatures with the use of guns or other weapons (example, whips against vampires). That’s why normally, when I would avoid games like Hunt: Showdown, the capability to fight against monsters intrigued me to test the game out.
Hunt: Showdown is a first-person shooter title from Crytek. You are put in the shoes of a bounty hunter that’s part of a secret hunting society that kills and tracks creatures. As part of this secret society, you will be dropped into creature infested areas to try to hunt the main target creatures located there.
As a first-person shooter, Hunt: Showdown is mostly an atmospheric solo or duo game which pits players within a limited area littered with creatures that are out to get you. Your hunter needs to explore and find clues to find the target creature using “dark vision,” a unique feature granting characters a special sight that allows you to tap and access clues in the game. Each successful clue gathered reveals a chunk of the map, and once you gather three clues, you are then given the exact location of the boss creature you’re hunting.
The game’s shooting system doesn’t follow the typical FPS formula where you aim and shoot. You need to actually cock the guns before you are able to shoot, and you can’t even shoot from the hip, at least for guns you acquire in the early stages of the game. This forces you to relearn how to properly shoot in the game, and in fact my lack of proper awareness during gun fights added to the creepy factor and the tension I wouldn’t normally experience if this was a run of the mill shooter.
However, Crytek designed Hunt: Showdown in such a way that you don’t have to necessarily follow the prescribed format in hunting your target. There were moments that you just happened to be in the right place (or wrong place, depending on your perspective), that you just so happen to drop into the target’s lair. This actually happened to me once during a playthrough where I fell through a barn floor and was greeted by the butcher, the boss that I was supposed to be hunting. And being the noob that I was, I was killed almost instantly.
Another unique feature that Hunt: Showdown has is a perma-death system in place for hunters. If your hunter dies during a hunt that’s it. He’s dead, and you have to hire another hunter. Everything that you spent on the dead hunter will be lost, and you’ll be practically just starting from square one.
The game progression though doesn’t just rely on your hunters alone, since you have an account locked progression system called Bloodlines. Bloodlines work as your overall advancement system where experience points from hunts opens up weapons and traits that you can then buy and use for your hired hunters. This is going to be important since cheaper hunters don’t have good starting equipment, and some don’t even have traits when you buy them.
Hunters in Hunter: Showdown are hired guns that you’ll be using in missions. Each hunter you choose has their own starting weapons, like rifles and hand guns, while some hunters have utility items, like healing items, upon hiring.
For every mission that your hunter survives, the hunter gains points depending on their performance. Leveling hunters award them trait points, which you can use to purchase from your current pool of traits to further improve the capability of your hired hunter. You can also hire multiple hunters at the same time, but you can only use one per mission. The game pretty much forces you to “cultivate” your hired hunters and punishes you heavily if your hunter gets killed in missions, as you spend money hiring these hunters and you are only awarded money when your hunter survive.
Hunt: Showdown’s multiplayer aspect is mostly duo-ing with another friend or random group while PvPing against other solo or duo teams in hunts. As mentioned earlier, sneaky kills are pretty necessary since sound travels a long way in the game. If you don’t want other players to know your location, it’s highly advisable that you kill creatures with melee.
Matches are pretty tense in the game since you need to not just be aware of the pathing of the monsters, you also need to watch out for other hunters who may just be waiting for you to get the bounty and kill steal from you. This is one of the typical things you have to watch out for since it’s easier to just pretty much kill players instead of the boss monsters.
I liked how Crytek added the feature that whoever earns the monster bounty gets a special ability with their dark sight that allows them to spot hunters for a limited time. This prevents bounty camping and gives those who fought hard against the boss a fighting chance.
The problem though with Hunt: Showdown is that the game is pretty empty during the times that I played on the Asia server. I actually had to switch to other servers with higher ping before I was able to encounter other hunters. While I would like to blame the game for giving me a false sense of security, especially at moments when other hunters jumped at me and my duo partner after we finished a monster kill, all I can blame is myself for not paying attention.
While the game can stand on its own as a solo PvE game, since it’s actually a difficult game to jump into, Hunt: Showdown’s multiplayer aspect lacks enough player base, at least on my runs, to consistently maintain that notion that there’s someone I need to watch out for. Without a shadow of doubt, Hunt: Showdown’s atmospheric gameplay is top notch since I have more than once experienced goosebumps during solo and even duo hunts. The design and creepiness factor are there and I like how the game builds on this with the small bits of lore you are privy to when you explore the game. I also loved how there are tons of easter eggs from scary films littered all throughout the game; if you’re a horror movie fan, you’ll enjoy seeing them in-game immensely.
Overall, Hunt: Showdown is a good example of an atmospheric scary game done right. Hunts are done creepy that you will jump out of your chair on those surprisingly scary moments in the game. Guns can make you feel like you are in control of the situation, but one mistake will leave you feeling vulnerable, especially on tense moments you forgot to reload your shotgun or gun. I liked how the game really forces you to be smart in the way you hunt, and being gung-ho is more detrimental to your survival. The only problem this game has for me is the lack of other players to play with. In its current version, Hunt: Showdown is a game that you need to play with someone else if you want to continue playing long term. Hopefully, as Crytek rolls out more updates to the game, more people will start playing Hunt: Showdown to be able to fully sustain the game’s player base. But as it is, if you’re looking for a solid scary multiplayer game, Hunt: Showdown is a good game to invest time on.