Survival horror is a genre that is really difficult to pull off. It’s a complex mix of tense atmosphere, player disempowerment and a fear of the unknown. If any of those things aren’t present the game can lose its appeal very quickly, and unfortunately we have Hunt by Studio Bump Check to point to as an example.

It is important to note that I am not entirely sure where this game is in terms of its development process. The developers state on the itch.io page that it is “an ongoing project”, however it is also listed as being in version 1.0, implying it is a completed game. Due to the lack of things that are listed on the page actually being in the game (such as a day/night cycle), I am going to go with it still being in a very confused state of early access.

2015-01-18_00001Hunt has a simple premise: find and kill the werewolf, using your trusty crossbow. Exploring a randomised landscape of tall grass and hills, the first time I played Hunt I was blown away by the dark, oppressive and most importantly tense atmosphere (check that off on our survival horror checklist).The grass limited vision to only what was right in front, and the player character moves pretty slowly, forcing me to find higher ground (that’s player disempowerment).

Then the howling began. Far off in the distance I could hear the werewolf; I knew it was out there, but I didn’t know how fast it was, where it was or whether it was closing in on me, and that was terrifying. With that, Hunt had successfully managed to check off the three things to make a good survival horror game, and I had only been playing for a few minutes.

2015-01-26_00001Imagine my disappointment when, about thirty seconds after the werewolf had started howling, I see a massive furball lolloping towards me in the daftest way possible. It was ridiculously fast, and the first time I played I just couldn’t react fast enough to kill it and so I was greeted with a game over screen accompanied by incredibly silly sounding screaming and a stock Unity engine menu. Just like that, all fear of the unknown was taken from me because I knew exactly what the werewolf was, how fast it was and where and when it would find me, and these things don’t change.

Every time the werewolf spawns, the same sounds play. They are telegraphed by so much noise that once you’ve noticed the pattern (and you will, very quickly) all of that tense atmosphere falls away. In that first session, Hunt had managed to present all three components of a solid survival horror game and then immediately pulled back the curtain and threw it all away. My future sessions were purely academic; I knew all the steps for holding off the werewolf, and when that tension and fear is stripped away Hunt just feels spectacularly boring.

2015-01-18_00001Hunt is an example of a game almost pulling off what it wants to do, but it gives away all of its tricks too easily. Every playthrough is the same, and considering how short the game can be (you can die within a couple of minutes) I honestly can’t recommend it. When it’s good, it is very, very good, but it just doesn’t last long enough to be enjoyable. It is an incredibly cheap game, only $3 on Itch.io, so if five minutes of enjoyment is worth that then absolutely pick it up, but if you wanted something with a bit more substance I would look elsewhere.

 

About The Author

Former Managing Editor

Joe Parlock is an opinionated pop culture writer from the British midlands with 3 years of experience and a passion for being a general grump about games. Starting out before he could walk with a Sega Megadrive and a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, his favourite genres of games includes platformers, stealth, fighting, roguelites and the budding survival sim genre. Joe also writes not only about games, but also other areas of pop culture such as film and TV.

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