Humans ruled the day while horrid creatures ruled the night. No matter how much they tried, the humans were annihilated every time the Night arrived. A group of humans called The Stalkers learned how to use the darkness to their advantage and fought the Night, but it wasn’t enough. An artifact known as the Seal of Night was found and in exchange for a blood oath that The Stalkers were willing to pay, the day/night cycle ended, and the sun ruled for hundreds of generations. However, fate proved unstoppable and a new Stalker must now Hunt the Night.
In Hunt the Night you play as Vesper, a Stalker by right who must travel across a dying land to save humanity. As you travel around the land you’ll encounter enemies and bosses that’ll take skill to defeat, pick up new weapons and abilities, and learn to customize things to your preferred playstyle. It’s definitely not the first time we’ve seen a game play like this, but the question is how well does Hunt the Night utilize these aspects?
Vesper’s primary attack methods are a melee weapon and a gun. Throughout the game, you’ll find and pick up many different melee weapons ranging from daggers to a claw-like attack to swords. Each weapon has their own damage output and possibly some other augmentation such as inflecting Plagum (poison). Each weapon has it's pros and cons. Smaller weapons can attack more quickly but have shorter range and smaller damage output, while larger weapons deal more damage at the cost of slower attack speed. You also have a set number of grenades you can throw that can be recharged a crow statues (the game’s save and fast travel points) and you have the ability to perform short dashes that will consume a bit of the energy gauge on the left side of the screen, though that recharges rather quickly, letting you get in several quick dashes in a row.
Early on, you’ll gain access to three ranged weapons that you can swap between freely once acquired: a pistol, a shotgun, and a crossbow. You can use the right analog stick on a controller to aim your gun before firing to ensure where the bullet will go. In the upper-left corner is your ammo count, which starts at 6 shots. Each gun uses a different amount of shots to fire. Once you run out of ammo there are three ways to refill it: at a crow statue, at what appears to be steam rising from the floor (you’ll know it when you see it), and every three melee hits will restore one bullet. hat’s the other catch to the melee weapons; using a faster weapon will also recharge your bullets faster.
This isn’t a bad system, as it means you can’t just shoot everything in sight; you’ll have to manage your ammo and only use it when you need to. The fact that your ammo doesn’t auto-recharge itself though can lead to a couple of frustrating situations when you need to shoot something to proceed and there’s no refill spots nearby. You’ll also begin the game with three roses, which also recharge at crow statues. These can be used to heal you, with each one healing about three or four drops of blood and this can be upgraded later on.
Your weapons aren’t the only things you can customize about yourself. You’ll also be able to find and purchase new suits that will give you different amounts of health and other effects, as well as different dark powers and moonstones. Moonstones are like accessories that give buffs such as your guns dealing increased damage, giving you more health, your shots having the chance to inflict plagum, and so on. Dark powers have various effects that will deal decent damage to enemies but also have a cooldown timer. Naturally the more powerful the power, the longer the cooldown period is, so what might seem like a powerful ability may not be as good as it seems if you can’t fire it off as much.
Now that you’re equipped with your weapon and gun of choice you’re ready to go out and slay some enemies…almost. There’s one more weapon in your arsenal that is essential for getting anywhere in the game: patience. Each enemy and boss in Hunt the Night attacks in particular ways and it’s absolutely imperative that you learn how each enemy attacks. Since you are briefly invulnerable to attacks while dashing you can get close to an enemy, bait out an attack, get a couple of hits in, and then dash out of the way before getting hit by them. Most enemies can be taken out with this strategy but bosses are a little different. While you can get in multiple hits on enemies before having to dash out of the way, you need to memorize a boss’s attack patterns to learn how to avoid them, then dash in and get a couple of good hits in before dashing back out. You can’t just wail away at a boss like a mad man. Instead, take a few attempts to learn how the boss attacks, then use that to your advantage.
The ultimate goal of the game is to find five fragments of a seal. Once you obtain the first one the rest of the world opens up to you and, for the most part, you’re free to wander around. You also have a few other things open to you such as completing Hunts, upgrading your health and weapons, and buying things from vendors you come across using the game’s currency called noctilium Unless I missed it, I didn’t see a vendor in the main hub area so I decided to upgrade my guns. When you pay for the first upgrade you’ll unlock the level one upgrades for all three guns (only one upgrade for each gun can be equipped at a time) but it costs a lot to get this upgrade, and naturally subsequent upgrades cost more. Then I found where you can upgrade how many roses you can carry and that cost even more, to the point that if I wanted that upgrade I’d have to grind a lot of noctilium.
The hunts are kind of high risk vs. high reward. When you purchase a hunt you’ll see a picture of where to find it. As you travel around, you’ll occasionally see an orange eye just sitting around. Interacting with it while having the correct Hunt will open up a cave where you can go in and try to defeat a powerful enemy. Sounds simple enough until you realize that you’ll be constantly attacked by minor enemies that will just keep coming until the main enemy is defeated. Your reward for this is a health vial that gives you a permanent ten HP upgrade to your health. Sounds great but the hunts can be pretty difficult, especially ones right at the start before obtaining many upgrades, if any. There will only be a few minor enemies but after a while more will join the fray, and one type of enemy is completely invisible except for a faint shadow making them hard to see until they attack you.
As frustrating as certain parts of the game are, there’s a lot to like about Hunt the Night. Aside from the strategy involved in defeating bosses there are also a good amount of puzzles in the game. These range from finding statues and putting them into the correct order to finding an object in one location and then taking it to another location to open a door. Later on, you’ll have the ability to utilize another character named Umbra, who can help you traverse large pools of purple liquid you’ll find throughout the game and can also help you solve puzzles involving having to hit multiple switches at the same time. The game looks and sounds great, and the controls are pretty fluid for the most part (dashing can get you in trouble now and then when near pits or the purple pools). What’s going to be a breaking point for some people will likely be the patience needed when dealing with enemies. Hunt difficulty aside, you can learn how to deal with most enemies rather easily, though the invisible ones are the ones that angered me more than anything else. The bosses though were a lot of fun to fight, especially once you learn how all of their attacks work and it comes down to just putting it all together.
Overall, Hunt the Night can be rough and frustrating at times, though still fun. Be warned though that if you’re someone who just wants to run into every enemy and hack away at them until they (or you) die, this game might not be for you. I didn’t think it was for me at first, especially considering how brutal the hunts can be at times (it took a while before I even completed one). The more I played though, the better things got. It still felt more difficult at times than I thought it should be, especially more towards the beginning of the game before you get many upgrades outside of a few different weapons. If you’re up for a challenge, definitely check out Hunt the Night, but be prepared for that challenge.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.