The box art for Hunted proudly states “A dungeon crawl for the Gears of War generation”. It’s a surprisingly accurate moniker – although you might be better off calling it “A terrifying generic dungeon crawl for the Gears of War generation who are willing to fight through abysmal Game for Windows Live framework to find a multiplayer game”.There is so, so much promise here. Put the right ingredients into a cooperative game, and odds are, I’ll fall in love with it, and those ingredients have been dumped into Hunted with undeniable zeal – randomised loot, customisable skills, cooperative combat. The real problem is that those ingredients are so frightfully tepid.
You play as big muscly dude, with the necessary overly large sword. Your faithful sidekick is scantily-clad lady with a bow – think Legolas, but with breasts who could crush and elephant and just enough clothing to un-tactfully hide nipples. You’ll fight every single damn generic monster in the history of monsters : skeletons, goblin things, ork things, and possibly some ogre things too. By fighting those things, you’ll find more things, you’ll become more powerful, and that’ll let you kill bigger things. It’s not cunning, it’s not original, but it’s worked for every cooperative game out there since Diablo. There’s also a story buried somewhere along the way, but frankly, I don’t think anybody really cares.
That should be enough for a perfectly acceptable game – cooperative combat is so unreasonably endearing, it should have been more than enough. But you see, I’m reviewing Hunted about a year after it’s release, and so, for a variety of reasons, NOBODY IS PLAYING HUNTED ANYMORE – and playing Hunted by yourself is, well…it’s just plain bad.
The combat is the key issue, because that’s largely all there is to Hunted. That might be forgiven if there was somebody to discuss the latest episode of Top Gear with while we were slaying our way through another throng of generic monsters, but in single-player, the meager scripted-banter between the two character just wasn’t enough to convince me to trudge on. Weapons feel completely weightless, making hitting enemies with a gigantic sword about as convincing as a tapping them with a wooden spoon, while they seem even more unphased by your bow attacks. Checkpoints are placed seemingly at random, meaning you have to trudge through the levels with the same enthusiasm I reserved for cross-country races as a child, and you won’t even have the slightly pervy gym teacher following you around this time.
Again, all this would be, I suspect, completely forgivable if I’d had a friend to play this with, but there are three problems with that: average PC games die well within a year, you can’t install a singly copy multiple times, and Game for Windows Live is still a steaming turd of a multiplayer service. The result of those annoyances is that, unless you buy two copies of Hunted, there is no way in hell or any damnable other plane of existence that you’ll find somebody to play with.
Which is a shame, because some of this actually isn’t half bad. The campaign is easily 10 or so hours long, which is more than enough to keep you busy for awhile. There are a near-endless amount of magical swords to pick up from dessicated skeletons, and the skill trees are adjustable enough to let you design your own chiseled barbarian or scantily clad elf-lady. There’s even a level designer, and a community platform that lets you download extra content.
In the right circumstances, Hunted could be fun. If you managed to find a friend, if you manage to connect to each other, and if you actually manage to get through the frustrating checkpointing, Hunted could be a blast. But you won’t. I sure as hell didn’t. If you happen to find 2 copies in some convenient bargain bin at a LAN party, go forth and slay generic monsters. In the meantime though, my copy will be sitting on my shelf, unloved, because it’s simply not worth the hassle.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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