Quick note: I’m treating this review as the solo portion of Hunt: Showdown, as I just didn’t have time to grab some friends to help me delve into the meaty co-op side of this game. I’ll get a proper multiplayer review up for Hunt: Showdown as soon as I stop being a socially inept dingus.
There’s a certain tension in the air when it comes to Hunt: Showdown. A deadly game where the role of hunter and hunted can flip at any time in your personal story, Crytek’s ambitious stab at adding multiplayer to a first-person shooter sandbox with horror elements added in for good measure is nothing short of ballsy.
And yet, it works on a terrifyingly good level. If there was a prize for games that could whip up a thick layer of tension on par with that of a politician’s mental capacity for making good decisions, Hunt: Showdown would walk away with top honours. It may have a familiar setup in allowing you to grab a loadout and then thrusting you into a world inhabited with all manner of supernatural denizens, but it’s a masterclass in dialling up the scare factor with its ghoulish tale of hunters pursuing the most lethal prey in the land.
The catch here? Just capturing your prize and surviving against hordes of possessed ownsfolk who have begun mutating into horrific forms is half the game. The other half is figuring out how you’ll escape being tracked down by fellow hunters who want to claim the spoils of war for themselves. It’s that twist on the battle royale formula that makes Hunt: Showdown so intriguing.
A regular game starts with you searching for clues as you track down your bounty, whether that be a spider of horrifyingly massive size that moves too damn quick when cornered or some civilian who has gotten a taste for flesh and now walks around hacking people apart. You’ll drop into the map, scan the environment for clues and gradually pinpoint where your mark is, while avoiding the fiends who prowl around on the map.
There’s a clunky sense of gunplay here as well, but considering the time period and the nature of Hunt: Showdown, it all ties into the atmosphere of the game as you use classic shotguns and rifles to keep the forces of darkness at bay. Or you can lob a handy lantern at the swine and watch them burn. Once you’ve found your bounty, it’s time to get creative.
Buildings routinely provide multiple entrances and exits with which to plot your titular showdown, cunning usually trumps brute force and the end result is a force of evil being banished back to hell while you hightail it out of the map before its servants take revenge on your frail frame. Here is where Hunt: Showdown delves deep into armpit-moistening territory, as the captured essence you’ve picked up is the prize that every hunter hungers for in the long game.
The extraction point is at the end of the map, alliances you’ve made with other players (Up to twelve players in total across any of the two maps) are tossed aside like dust in the wind and the race begins to escape with your loot. It’s tense and heart-shattering stuff when you run into other players, conserving your limited ammunition against the hordes and having barely any communication to rely as per Hunt: Showdown’s design.
It’s not about being the last man standing for some virtual chicken dinner at the end, it’s about surviving long enough to escape the clutches of the only creatures worse than mutated demonspawn who jammed rusty nails into their faces for fun: Other people. That makes for a unique premise, but one that is quickly undone by the repetitive nature of Hunt: Showdown.
With only three bounties to chase after and a limited number of Hunters to experiment with, there’s only so much that the human element can offer. The grind to get better becomes a chore, unlockable loot quickly loses its lustre and the real attraction is the promise of better content that is being planned for Hunt: Showdown as it seeks to establish itself against some fierce competition.
It’s a promise that I’m dying to see fulfilled though, as Hunt: Showdown has some immense promise to it.
Last Updated: October 2, 2019