Huntdown review: Come with me if you want to play
Huntdown is an incredible return to the glory days of cheesy ’90s action films, effectively nailing the stereotypes of all the great movies.
Developer: Easy Trigger Games
Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (version reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: May 12, 2020
When I was given the opportunity to review Huntdown, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m not big on pixel graphics. I’m not knocking them, I just had an Atari when it was new and I run blindly towards the future with an inability to look back. I’m also not a shooter guy and I don’t get into games with a lot of violence. So when I sat down to get a feel for Huntdown and then ended up staying up until three in the morning because I was hooked and wanted to see what came next, I was very surprised.
On paper, there isn’t much that seems remarkable about Huntdown. It’s a side-scrolling shooter that plays like Contra or Metal Slug, with the exception of that obnoxious thing both games did where they constantly spawn baddies.
But there’s something about Huntdown that cannot be conveyed through screenshots or even a trailer. It’s actually thrilling to play.
Huntdown takes place in a world where after an overzealous police force has caused riots, which lead to heavier blowback, which in turn leads to a post-apocalyptic wasteland where criminal ran mega corporations run everything. Yeah, this is probably not the greatest time for this game to have that plot element but they couldn’t have possibly seen this coming. In this world, you play as a bounty hunter tasked to hunt down certain criminals that are throwing everything into further chaos.
You pick from one of three different characters and who you picked changes mostly aesthetic things in the game. The car they drive changes. When they communicate, you see they each have different notes written on their note pads. They have different things hanging from their keys. But the coolest bit is that their different personalities.
From a gameplay standpoint, the different characters don’t differ much. But as the game does its best to make you relive the cheesy early 90’s apocalyptic action films, having these different archetypes help. You have Anna Conda, a human who hates absolutely everything and drops a ton of terrible cliches everywhere. She was my favorite of the three.
There’s also John Sawyer, the cyborg who “has been a man since he was a boy.” He’s a lot more negative and got more of an Escape from New York feel.
Rounding out these 90’s action film character types is Mow Man, a recon droid/robot who gives that Terminator-meets-Robocop-type feel. All are fully voiced and, honestly, whoever voiced them did very well.
Actually, all of the voice acting is quality. I was actually pretty surprised when I found out the characters were voiced because usually “retro aesthetics” is an excuse to not do that. So I was even more surprised to find out that my employer, all of the enemies, minibosses, bosses and — well, everyone — were voiced. It really helps nail home the tone of the game.
When you’re playing through the game, any character on screen might start commenting about what’s happening. You’ll even see an exclamation point coming off them so you know who’s talking. Bosses will constantly talk to the point where you fully understand their personality, whether it’s an insane accountant taking a call and handling transactions DURING your fight or a giant criminal with a chain talking about physics as he sends people flying.
One part in particular that really impressed me was a boss that was a hot rod enthusiast who was more than inspired by Elvis. During the fight, he chased me with his guitar and dropped a ton of obnoxious Elvis puns. Just as I started to get annoyed by it, he fell into the acid below by accident. When he pulled himself out he was a melty mess-like that poor soul in Robocop who got splashed by acid. As he chased me around for the rest of the fight with his weird new stretchy limbs, he started crying about how he’ll never play the guitar again or couldn’t feel his tongue. Suddenly, I felt bad for this obnoxious character. I took away what was clearly his one thing.
And the gangs throws a lot of personalities at you. The game world is made of different cities, each controlled by a gang. You have a group that’s suspiciously like “The Warriors”, a gang that’s hockey-themed and led by a religious zealot, a motorcycle and hot rod loving gang, and even a gang that borrows heavily from the cult classic film The Last Shogun of Brooklyn.
Every gang fights differently so you can’t get used to one strategy and it really adds to feeling of progression as you play. Planting your feet and gunning down an armored man on rollerblades wielding a hockey stick is going to have a very different effect than planting your feet and trying to gun down a person in a chariot being dragged by a motorcycle.
And while many of the bosses are huge, they do nothing to prepare you for the gang leaders. You can fight all the chain wielding, bomb-throwing, mutant bosses; but, when you find a gang leader and they bust out a massive armored suit and come after you, it’s exhilarating.
Long story short, Huntdown is an absolute blast to play and it kept me going. Even through some of the most difficult parts, my frustration paled in comparison to the feeling of wanting to see what was next.
HuntdownEasy Trigger Games
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.