Huntdown is set in an un-named future where the streets are ruled by criminal gangs and cops fear to thread. Players are put in the boots of one of three bounty hunters in order to clean the streets of scums and free the neon, cyberpunk-ish city of the corruption ruling over it.
Huntdown is a 2D run and gun shooter akin to the Contra series. Move to the right and reach the level end and take on the boss. Players have a standard pistol to start with, with unlimited ammo. As you kill enemies and run around levels, you’ll find additional, temporary, firepower and melee weapons. The variety of side weapons is very reasonable; from a simple machinegun to an explosive rocket launcher and everything in between. Once you’ve picked up a secondary weapon, you can switch between your standard and new weapon at all times in case you want to save the stronger weapon for tougher sections.
There’s also throwables that can be picked up such as Grenades, Molotov Cocktails, Remote Bombs; just to name a few. Once you run out, you can use a boomerang. Thankfully, it is never lost; if you can’t catch it on its way back, the boomerang icon refills progressively and once full, you can use it again. Obviously, making sure to catch it is the more efficient way. You can also hide in certain spots in each level and duck behind boxes to avoid damage. You can also dash to avoid fast moving bosses and bullets. And if an enemy gets into your comfort zone, the attack button will automatically kick enemies who are too close.
The game is split into 4 different parts of the city with 5 levels each. Every part of the city is represented by a unique gang of misfits which adds its own unique enemies and attacks, but also uniquely designed bosses. One the game’s best aspect is the boss designed. Each boss presents a different and unique challenge which requires players to think quick and adapt. The more damage you dole out, the more aggressive the boss becomes; sometimes even having its lifebar refill and switch into a stronger, more aggressive form. No boss battle feels cheap or tacky; they are all fun in their own unique ways.
Huntdown can be played solo or with a friend, bringing memories back from the classic 8bit and 16bit era of gaming. It also features three difficulty settings right off the bat: Easy, Normal and Hard. The game is overall perfectly balanced; first few levels are easy enough to get through; you might die here and there as you learn the ropes of the game, but it won’t ever feel cheap or unjustified. As you progress through the areas, enemies become slightly harder (and come in higher numbers) and bosses more challenging, and the difficulty increase feels perfect. One little omission is the fact that you cannot shot upwards; not a big issue but could’ve been a very welcomed mechanic in certain parts.
The game looks great as well. It’s a beautiful homage to the 16bit era of gaming; despite it’s darker tones, it’s colorful, enemies are easily distinguishable from the background. Enemy variety is through the roof as areas’ enemies are uniquely design to fit a specific theme. Boss are also some of the best and interesting designs they could for a 16bit game. The game’s soundtrack is synthwave inspired; which suits the game really well. One minor annoyance is the one-liners often spouted by the protagonist; they’re meant to be funny, but it does get old at times. Although, he doesn’t repeat the same lines often, it can still get annoying hearing a random quip.
Huntdown is definitely one of the best games I’ve played thus far in 2020. From its simplistic and addictive gameplay mechanics, to the arsenal of weaponry at your disposal, the fact that its perfectly balanced, and the unique and challenging bosses makes this game a must play.
- Addictive gameplay
- Fun boss fights
- Difficulty is perfectly balanced
- One-liners become annoying over time
- Can’t shoot upwards