Hunt the Night is a game that began its journey on Kickstarter in 2019 and is set to release on April 13th, 2023 as of writing this review. Since its jump start on Kickstarter, the developers have put in a lot of hard work and dedication into their game, even going so far as opening their own group on Discord where they are active with their community and player feedback regarding issues and bugs found within its testing period. Hunt the Night, despite being made by a small team of indie game developers, has packed in a ton of fast-paced gameplay, enticing graphics are done fantastically well in their 2D representation, and an immersive souls-like atmosphere, so let’s get into it.
Hunt the Night takes place in a gruesome nightmare world with monsters, darkness, and a plaguing amount of blood stains on all surfaces. You play as Vesper, a member of ‘The Stalkers’ prowling through the monster-ridden corridors to unravel the mystery and secrets that Medhram holds. Don’t be fooled by the retro style, the souls-like, and Bloodborne inspiration is done justice with a gripping world that is fleshed out and packed with detail… and the difficulty to accompany. Starting off I didn’t think this game would be quite as large as it was, the open world map, quests, and sheer amount of attention to detail made it worth the delays in schedule. You’ll find yourself either slaying monsters continuously for Noctilium, the Stalker’s currency, or sitting at a waterfall getting lost in the water and flowers that surround them. Albeit this is a good way to die. Boss battles, oh the joy of any good souls-like journey, are not a letdown. You will find yourself being beaten down either within an inch of your life or dying horrifically but there is a method to the madness! Hunt the Night’s boss encounters much like the rest of the in-game abominations follow specific attack patterns and styles that allow the player to perfect their parry game, and take no damage. This however will only be after failing more times than you have fingers for. All in all, the combat is great, controls on PC may lead you to fall down a dark hole sometimes as following the cursor to see where your directional pull will take you is near impossible. However, it is much more forgiving for those that wish to use a handheld controller. I recommend this, it will save you a few Noctilium (and sanity). I do not think you will find more well-balanced and smooth gameplay with a souls-like retro game, it is rewarding to perfect the technique.
Let’s talk about interfaces and sound design. Hunt the Night has a lovely inventory interface; it is very stylized and serves its purpose of equipping new armor, weapons, abilities, and Moonstones. The only drawback again is to those using a mouse and keyboard over a controller; you may want to look into key remapping if you go this route as it can be a little clunky with key input. Is the tutorial immersive or too much? Hunt the Night pulls off a great new player experience by having the player (and Vesper) perform different tasks at different times, this makes for a much more immersive experience. This also allows for further comprehension of the game’s overall combat arch and abilities while also dabbling in how and when you should use them; IE switching from ranged to short-distance melee and other abilities Vesper may possess. No spoilers. All in all the UI is smooth; input commands are without stutter, and I never found myself getting too frustrated navigating the different processes.
Sound design. Hunt the Night captures all the right things in an inspired Bloodborne-Esq manner. During tense moments the music and sound effects that accompany really draw you in without going over the top. Playing with headphones is highly recommended to get the full experience, you will not regret it. Whether it be blood dripping from the walls, body parts falling and being spread around like leftover sausage meat, or the music that gets that adrenaline pumping. Nothing ever goes on without reason… The silent moments also add a great deal to the ambiance; they do not disappoint.
Dungeons. Unlike other souls-like games, Hunt the Night has a lovely dungeon system that takes old-school Zelda into the light. These assorted dungeons are of varying difficulty and are a nice balance of room-to-room combat and problem-solving to gain access to the next area. But be warned, every room is out to kill you and most of the time it will succeed in doing so, so be prepared before taking on the adventure. With no spoilers: always be sure to check every accessible area so as to not miss anything and have to backtrack.
Story. Hunt the Night’s story is told by many unreliable characters and witnesses. Without spoiling any of the game, the player must piece together fragments of the overarching narrative from crow feathers placed around the map. Following a good portion of the story is told to those who are willing to look for it like its sibling games. You will find a mix of exposition of characters, and reading backstory for yourself, be patient and theory craft as you go along.
Hunt the Night is a fantastic game that brings both souls games and 2d sprites into the perfect mix of terror and adventure. If you awaited this game through the years of its development and delays I believe you will not be disappointed. Hone your skills in combat and exploration, and bask in all the beautiful 2d rendered environments.
Hunt the Night has certainly earned its place in the community, give it a try and prepare to die, die, and die again.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
- Incredibly enjoyable combat that rewards learning patterns
- Beautiful environments with amazing horror aspects
- Fleshed out characters and story so long as you pay attention
- Tutorial is well integrated within gameplay and story
- Difficult using the mouse and keyboard at times
- The cursor showing where your character is about to swing disappears when using the mouse
- Some minor graphical errors with monsters that get stuck in animation