Hunt: Horrors Of The Gilded Age – Preview

Title   Hunt: Horrors Of The Gilded Age
Developer  Crytek
Publisher  Crytek
Platform  Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows PC
Genre  Co-op shooter, survival horror
Release Date  Late 2014
Official Site

Sitting down to preview Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age I was unsure what to expect. With Crytek announcing Arena of Fate I wasn’t considering there would be another brand new IP on the horizon, so I was pleasantly surprised with this four player cooperative action RPG. The game is set in the late 1800s and focuses on groups of normal people investigating myths and legends that seem to have more to them than being general folklore. These people don’t have any magical powers or mystical artefacts, just grit, determination and a bucket-load of bullets. The version of the game I saw is currently pre-alpha and has been in development for less than a year, so is subject to change. Despite that, the game appeared to already have the high level of polish that I’d expect from a Crytek title.

The demo opened with four men wading through swamps, deep in the heart of Louisiana, hunting the Nightmare Witch – a local creature that had warped the minds of people residing in a local village. The view of the game flipped between each character as they approached the small village, taking out lanterns with a crossbow on the way in, so not to reveal their presence. Each character sported their own identity and personality, which included two American men, a British man and a Cajun male. No mention was made of female characters, although given the artwork for the game, they look to be included.

All the stealth ended up being for nothing because as the group entered the village a stream of pissed off villagers piled out of their houses, brandishing axes, knives and scythes. Immediately, I was reminded of Resident Evil 4, minus one massive freak with a chainsaw. The group broke out the shotguns and crossbows and started duelling with the irritated locals, who did their best to avoid bullets with their handheld weapons. Weight of numbers soon prevailed, however, and the group employed some quick dodging manoeuvres and their own melee weapons to counter the growing crowd.

The heavier enemy presence caused the group to separate and soon one of the Americans found himself completely alone. He got caught reloading his pistol and, rather than stay put, chucked himself through a window and out onto a raised platform. This defensive action soon proved to be costly as a rather large gentleman brandishing a sledgehammer appeared and started causing problems. This chap was huge and he was soaking up damage like a skip-load of sponges. Given his isolation from the rest of the group, it wasn’t long before the American was in the shit, with the mini-boss of sorts getting him in a choke-hold. A QTE appeared but no amount of button mashing could save him; the camera promptly panned to the big bloke who snapped the American’s neck and the group of four was now three.

The remaining men soon found their friend’s killer and got to work on him. He was still soaking up a great deal of damage and the dodge function was invaluable to them as they moved between his giant swings. He did manage to grab the British chap, but he wasn’t having any of this joker’s bullshit and, after successfully completing the QTE, he pulled out a hatchet and rammed the business end into the big guy’s knee. The others then finished him off and the group breathed a sigh of relief before mourning their lost comrade.

Moving forward I couldn’t help but notice a distinct lack of variety in the weaponry; everyone was either brandishing a shotgun or a crossbow, with a pistol as a backup weapon. As I’ve mentioned previously this game is pre-alpha, so I wasn’t too concerned, but Crytek certainly needs more variety in this area if the gameplay is going to be entertaining over long periods of time. That being said, one of the group did have a shotgun on his back that he had not used, and which appeared to have been modified. I was looking forward to seeing it in action, but my attention was drawn away from the weapon by a loud banging noise coming from a nearby coffin. The view switched and revealed that the dead American had re-spawned inside a chained-up coffin. From the player’s view he could watch as his comrades freed him, (although quite why there was a viewport built into the coffin, I’ll never know).

With their colleague freed the group pushed into the swamp and were met with groups of zombie-like creatures emerging from the water. The rain had started lashing down and visibility was extremely poor, forcing the team to move forward slowly and carefully… except the guy with the modified shotgun. The shotgun was actually a flamethrower and the chap in question wasn’t interested in a slow advance, instead, ploughing into the drenched zombies and setting them alight. Flaming enemies fled into the teeming rain, illuminating the immediate area and revealing a cemetery not too far ahead.

Moments later our four heroes found themselves opening the gates to the cemetery which, typically, slammed closed behind them, before a chain wrapped itself around the bars, pulling them tightly shut. They found themselves faced by a levitating woman, who was wearing a white dress draped in rusted chains with chunks of stone attached to the ends. She looked horrific and her creepy voice speaking in rhymes confirmed as much. The gun-toting chaps didn’t waste any time and immediately unleashed everything they had at her as she spawned fresh zombies to use as cannon fodder. She proved to be a tricky adversary, combing ranged attacks with the tried and tested trick of disappearing and re-appearing in different areas of the cemetery. As the demo drew to a close she grabbed one of the men and wrapped chains around his neck, as the screen faded to black.

Overall, I came away impressed with Crytek’s efforts and consider Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age to be a random love-child of Resident Evil 4, Left 4 Dead and Warframe. I certainly think this is one to be keeping an eye on, with the open beta launching soon as the title heads to PC and consoles.

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