The Hunter happily boasts that it is the world’s most realistic hunting game. While this is probably not the ideal concept for people who want games crammed full of instant gratification, easy solutions and transparent plot, The Hunter does manage to deliver its own share of worthwhile endeavours. The Hunter is not without odd, and glaring, omissions to the core of the gameplay.
The game is exactly as it describes itself, the most realistic hunting game that is currently available, and while that might turn off people who think that a trek through the woods on their down time sounds like a terrible idea, it does pay off with time. This is very akin to adventures in the real sport, only to a much less, more virtual extent. The upside to this is that this isn’t other hunting games that are simply shooting galleries; people have to try in this one.
The game includes a PDA that serves two purposes; to show the players current location on the map, and to help track the various animals. When the device “senses” that animal tracks are in the general vicinity it lets off a beep to indicate that the player should be paying attention. Small circles appear above the tracks, and once inspected, the PDA is happy to show either the direction that the animal was headed, the area that it might have travelled since leaving the track, or both if enough data has been captured. Although this does break the sim part, it makes sense due to this being a game and not a wandering around in the woods simulator.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t several other things that can take the player out of the game more, though. The most jarring of the exclusions is the inability to jump, although this is a game about hunting things and not climbing on rocks, it still seems weird from a players point to not allow jumping. Another is the lack of swimming, the character simply stops at the foot of the water; again, this makes sense but is hard to ignore. The last, and most disappointing, is that the player cannot die. When dropped off the highest and steepest cliff in the forest area, the player simply lands as if nothing happened and keeps walking.
None of this is a real knock towards the game’s strides towards realism. The world that is crafted for the player to traverse feels hand crafted, giving the sense of the real outdoors and not just some randomly generated forest. The game also sounds like walking through a forest during the summer, to the point that it would even started to make my skin crawl with the constant calling from the insects. The bugs themselves are rather interesting as they seem to fly around, perhaps in unnaturally large numbers, but seemingly of their own accord, giving the final touch to making the game feel like it has a sense of place.
The time that I had with the game was based on two small islands, connected with a land bridge between them. While the islands are not massive in normal “open world” game terms, it does take a rather long time to trek from one side of one of the islands to the other, while doing that all of the terrain in-between is different. The game does a great job of varying the landscape enough that it is easy to figure out land marks after enough time has been invested in the game, even without the use of the ever present PDA/GPS device.
The hunting itself feels odd in places, though. While it can kind of be a pain to go through the entire process of tracking a deer from one side of an island to the other. Sadly, after all of the effort, when they are found they don’t act as they should. Most of the guns in the game are about as accurate as they would be in the real world, meaning it bounces as the avatar breathes and isn’t always 100% accurate. This, naturally, leads to missed shot after missed shot. The problem is that when the deer decides to run away it, normally does so in a circle, not really going anywhere.
Probably the most impressive part of The Hunter is that the game is available to try it, in a nearly complete version, for free. Not all of the animals are able to be hunted, as just one is up for non-paying subscribers, but this free membership does show the best parts of the game off: the environment. Paying for the game, though, will unlock the other creatures living on the island that are able to be hunted, as well as future planned updates of additional locations and other creatures.
While The Hunter has its issues, most of them have to do with failings do to the rest of the game being so well detailed. For a game that is free to download and try, and only charges a subscription fee for those that are truly interested in hunting everything they can find, and then comparing the kill to others online, this is well worth the subscription fee. For anyone else that has a mildly good PC rig it is worth a sign up and download just to see the amazingly landscape that has been modelled for the game.