There are…certain games out there, which few of us like talking about. Brutal games. Shocking games. Games which earned age restrictions usually reserved for centenarians who are into ultra-porn. Only a handful of these games exist, and quite a few of them have earned their notorious ratings. Hatred is the newest contender to that throne, a game where human life is cheaper than your ex-girlfriend and bullets are plentiful. But for all its bluster and shock value, Hatred never becomes more than a game built on clever marketing and sometimes-capable gameplay.
If you’ve been living under a rock or inside a church with a particularly solid internet firewall for the last couple of months, then Hatred’s story is pretty much easily summed as a kill-frenzy in shades of grey. It’s like playing through an extended version of the torture scenes from the 2005 Punisher video game, while your nihilistic antagonist spouts one-liners about culling the herd of humanity and how his retribution is justified.
A twin-stick shooter, Hatred allows you to pop rounds off on an innocent populace, stopping every now and again to ease their misery by introducing their heads to an AK47 round or the cold steel of your knife on their throat. No one can stop you, cops are unprepared for your suburban genocide and the more you execute the more you heal. Reading that, the game sounds horrific. Especially when you realise how good some people are at it, and how easy it becomes to commit mass murder later on. The thing is, all of this doesn’t make the game any special.
I’ve seen bigger uproars over players kicking a cat in GTA V or minions begging for their lives before being sliced to ribbons in Ninja Gaiden 3. But to me, they’re nothing more than pixels and coding, coupled together with some voice-acting and command prompts. And hell, I’m all for the idea of a population-thinner of a game. Half the time I was playing Hatred, I was imagining that the people that I was slaughtering were the same folks who clog up entire passages in shopping malls or fail to comprehend the idea of a moving f***ing walkway at airports.
And on and on and on I killed, while whistling the tune to Christmas Slay Bells. I worked my way through pedestrians, families, police stations, trains and a nuclear power station eventually. Holy crap, did it get boring quickly. There’s no real sense of guilt in committing these atrocities in the game, no sense of well-placed emotional regret for offing a random civilian, even when the game does a close-up of the wicked deed. There’s no emotional attachment whatsoever, as your cipher of a main character growls out clichéd dialogue and goes to work.
There’s also very little satisfaction, as the game made me feel…numb. I genuinely didn’t care. Technically, the game is…alright. You run around, shoot and chuck explosives. That’s the easy summation of the game. Targeting however, felt deliberately off at times, as players seem to only score enough hits to knock a civilian into a mercy-killing state, resulting in an inconsistent system of murder most foul.
Visually, the game has a few neat ideas. Taking place with a subdued palette of only black, white and grey, colour is reserved for more shocking or explosive moments in the game. It works as long as you aren’t paying attention to the world around you, as the colour scheme often results in difficult scenarios where character blend into their surroundings too easily and making the game massively confusing as you seek to achieve your kill quota.
It’s just…I don’t even know. The game feels comically underwhelming when you really sit back and examine it, realising that you dropped cash on something that was most likely built for YouTubers to swarm over and populate their channel with shock and awe. At best, Hatred is an average game, dressed up in controversy. It’s not even close to being as horribly charming as Postal was almost two decades ago, nowhere near as funny as Bulletstorm was and about as shocking as a soap opera ending.
Last Updated: June 9, 2015