Spiders and assassins and bounties, oh boy: a ‘Hunt: Showdown’ review

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Image courtesy of Crytek.

Officially making a splash on PC on Aug. 27, Hunt: Showdown is self-described as a “competitive first-person bounty hunting game.” Essentially it pits players against each other in a bid to quickly find clues to the whereabouts of a creature, dispatch it, collect the bounty and escape unscathed. What exactly makes Hunt worth the investment over similar competitive games? It’s overall setting and ambiance.

It’s easy to dismiss Hunt: Showdown as yet another entry in the free-for-all-esque multiplayer genre, where players rush to snatch up weapons and supplies needed to survive the match. However, the game takes pains to go beyond the initial mad grab, making the actual bounty hunt a better point of focus. Every player in the match can track down a creature on the map by gathering three clues. Once the clues are collected, the location of the creature is revealed to the player, at which point the deadly hunt begins.

hunt: showdown
Don’t let the quiet countryside fool you. There are threats lurking everywhere.

Whether it’s wading through the bayous or scoping out an old train station, the quiet and sometimes even serene country backdrop of the game is phenomenal. While it’s certainly not the first game to visit such a locale, the way in which it is applied is perfectly done. Gunshots echo in the distance, storms rumble overhead, and floorboards creak with the slightest movement. The sound design compliments much of the setting well, making for a top-notch aural experience when hunting the deadliest of monsters.

The creatures themselves are quite formidable, requiring hefty firepower and patience to take down. This leads to one of the biggest issues in the game: it’s better with friends.

hunt: showdown
This screen may become an old friend after awhile.

That’s not to say that Hunt: Showdown is unplayable solo, but since it queues matches with teams and solo players altogether, it can lead to oft-frustrating double-team situations that overwhelm single players. It’s true that a skilled single player could hold off many, but it makes for a tough start to hunters just getting their feet wet with the game.

A second point of frustration is the game’s leveling system. Points are awarded for completion of bounties (as well as killing off competing hunters), which is great. However, the game works to encourage players to level up not only their characters, but their bloodlines. This also means that hunter characters can be permanently killed off in the game and all their experience goes with them. While it is a deeper leveling system than most like games, it can be difficult to conquer and feel effective when the XP gains can be so detrimentally affected by a few bad matches.

hunt: showdown
Hunt gives players the opportunity to recruit bounty hunters into their bloodlines for use.

There in lies a lot of the appeal to Hunt: Showdown, it’s a game with depth. From the environments, to the sound, to the bloodline system, the title is very strongly encouraging players to make an investment of time. Despite it’s few frustrations, Hunt: Showdown is a fun and challenging game worth a look.

Hunt: Showdown final score: 4/5

Hunt: Showdown is currently available on Steam for $39.99. It is reportedly expected to launch for Xbox One soon.

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About the author

Christen Bejar

Christen Bejar is a freelance gaming writer who started the local blog The Pause Button while studying at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. For Nerdvana, Bejar reviews video games and also previews, recaps and photographs many local events from a gamer's perspective.

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