Hunt: Showdown (Early Access) Review – Creepy, Atmospheric, and Absolutely Addictive

Hunt: Showdown
Crytek

I remember watching videos of Crytek’s first-person, survival horror hunting game, Hunt: Showdown, back in 2017. Even the pre-alpha footage intrigued me. It had quite a unique set-up and diverged from pretty much any other survival horror and battle royale game out there.

In Hunt: Showdown, you enter a dark and savage world set in the old days of the Wild West. Demons have been unleased into certain sectors of our reality, one of them being a spooky Louisiana swampland containing scattered towns. You begin by purchasing a bounty hunter; the more skilled they are, or the better weapons and equipment they have, the more expensive they are to buy.

You also must take into consideration that in Hunt: Showdown, death is permanent. However, you can keep all of your experience via a tracking “Bloodline rank.” So, even when your character perishes out in the gloomy swamps (and you will die), you can keep all of your progress, skills and perks-wise.

After choosing your bounty hunter, you then choose a bounty, which basically determines tracking one of the two boss demons. If you are successful in taking it out, you’ll have a chance escaping the game’s single map and reaping your rewards. In order to win a match, you and your partner (if you have one) must brave the horrors of the swamps, such as possessed grunts, hornet-infested hags, and lumbering behemoths that will try to smash you dead into the soggy swamp earth.

But demons aren’t the only thing that you have to worry about. Other players will take on the same bounties as you, and are hunting down the same boss demon as well. In order for anyone to find out the general location of the boss creature, bounty hunters must call on a supernatural ability called Darksight in order to discover clues as to its whereabouts. You can either pair up with another person or go solo.

After dropping into my first match, one of the first things that hit me was the fantastic atmosphere. Crytek went all out in making the creepy Louisiana swamplands as forlorn as possible. The incredible aesthetic and art style are breathtakingly glorious.

As my partner and I crept through the bogs and thick foliage, I also noticed that the sound design was absolutely stunning. And it’s not just for show. If you step on a batch of twigs you might alert nearby monsters or other players. Similarly, you can disrupt flocks of crows, sending them flying up into the air, or stumble across packs of demonic dogs that are hungry for human flesh. You will even come across halfway dead horses that will whinny loudly if you get to close to them.

All of these factors set Hunt: Showdown up nicely as a stealth-based, thinking man’s shooter. Yes, you can go in running around with your guns blazing, but more often than not you’ll be pushing up daisies (or in this case water lilies) because the game is so brutal. Your weapons include everything from repeater pistols and crossbows, to badass hunting rifles and Molotov cocktails. However, ammo is rather scarce.

This forces players to make some tough decisions. For instance, should you sneak by monsters and other players, and thereby save your ammo for the big bad boss demons? Or, should you indulge in more gunplay and kill monsters and enemy players for more experience points? There have been several occasions where I’ve tracked down a boss, but didn’t quite have enough ammo to finish killing them. Therefore, some ammo rationing is definitely advisable. But I’m happy that you can approach the game in different ways, and can feasibly win matches without even killing other players.

Once you kill one of the boss demons, your position suddenly becomes compromised and all of the other surviving players know your general location. If they’re not in the area yet, you have a good chance of banishing the demon to hell, and then getting the heck out of Dodge. However, if there are some enemy bounty hunters in the immediate vicinity, be prepared for some super-fun Old West style shootouts.

Because of the wide array of weapons on hand, PvP battles can get really intense. Not only can you utilize your bounty hunter’s purchased weapons, but you can also find some scattered throughout the swamp. There are lanterns, axes, sledge hammers, bear traps, and other things that can be used as weapons against your foes. Heck, I’ve even shot a mounted lamp above another player and watched as the resultant bursts of flames showered down on him.

The graphics themselves look phenomenal, especially if you have a higher end gaming pc. You’ll also witness beautiful weather effects and different times of the day or night. Nighttime sorties can be especially scary because of the horrors lurking within the swamplands.

All throughout each match, you might here gunshots off in the distance, or come across the bodies of downed teams. But since there aren’t any kill indicators that flash up on your screen, you’ll never have any idea of how many enemy bounty hunters are left. This, along with the ever-present danger of the monsters, can create some serious tension.

Even though Hunt: Showdown is only in Early Access, it has a good amount of content to enjoy. Those who enjoy strategizing, tactics, horror, demons, and nail-biting shootouts should definitely check the game out. It’s a very unique game experience anything else out there right now.

SCORE: 88%

Hunt: Showdown features great graphics that make its survival horror hunting gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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