Hands On | Huntdown

Somewhere between the quick-to-flaw future of Demolition Man, the broken cities of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York series and the gang-ridden streets of The Warriors lives Huntdown.

An action arcade shooter, Easy Trigger Games’ Huntdown is set in a broken future where metal-jawed, eyepatch-and-trench-coat–wearing bounty hunters dispense justice from the end of a shotgun. It’s fast, it’s explosive, and it’s stacked from top to bottom with hand-drawn pixel art. Basically, it’s a perfect embodiment of the arcade action shooters it is most definitely inspired by.

Huntdown 1Its broken skylines are rampant with gangs. Each mission sees you taking on a specific one, from dumb, quirky, cannon-fodder goons through to classic retro boss-style obscenity — wrestler man, jumpy man, actually a robot man…

Levels are simply left-to-right affairs, although during my time playing through the two levels on demo at the Sweden Games Conference late last year, I was quite impressed with the height of the levels. Specifically, they gave a lot of room for two players when it was played in co-op, which was most definitely the best way to play.

In addition to the expected jumping and shooting, Huntdown features a few very useful mod-cons. For a start, you can duck, slide and take cover, although it should be mentioned that another modern convention comes in to make cover destructible, which means you need to stay on the move. The sliding needed a little work in the version I played, as it seemed to take a few frames longer to end than expected, making it abrupt compared to everything else in the game.

In Huntdown’s final release, the slide (and all that cover) will be essential. Even though each level is flooded with special weapons which range from rocket-launcher to machine gun, the enemies can drop you fast, which forces a fast-paced but tactical play style.

Grenades, though! Grenades, which in most arcade shooters are normally a special with a set arc, instead bounce and rattle along the ground before exploding. They feel like an excellent way to reclaim control in frantic moments.

I mentioned that co-operative was the best way to play the game. This isn’t just because of its height and intended difficulty, but also because doubling up on the (very limited in ammo) special weapons and having somebody around to revive you is pretty useful. Regardless of how you go down — hockey stick to the face, shotgun to the ankles, grenade to the gullet — your colleague can whizz a defibrilator out and zap you back to your feet.For long-term console fans, the best comparisons to draw to Huntdown  are Blackthorn, with its alcove-hiding and brutal-feeling weapon blasts, and Demolition Man, with its gritty future cityscape and tall levels. Neither of these match the snap-second pacing of the game, however. Most specifically, neither featured co-operative play.

Huntdown can be wishlisted on Steam, however there’s currently no release date predicted outside of 2018. When it does launch it will do so for Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch, as well as PC, Mac and Linux.

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