Metroidvania’s are an ever increasingly popular genre, with entries like Bloodstained and Hallow Knight pressing the gas. So when you get new entries in the genre, such as HunterX, the knowledge of the required formula is almost always guaranteed to be there as with most well worn categories. The question starts to become about how well the basics are implemented, instead of if they are there at all. This is the difficulty of HunterX.
There is nothing wrong with HunterX, as stated before all the required parts are there. Backtracking with newer powerups allow for further exploration; there’s a sprawling map to encourage the exploration, and light role-playing elements. All of these are there, and for the most part well built. What the problem becomes is that the title seems to stumble with the small things.
The first issue that can be noticed almost right away is that the character’s movement feels wrong. It is just slightly too stiff and floaty, sort of like they are gliding slightly above the ground and simply mime walking to keep up the illusion. Back tracking through an area can be a chore as well. Early in the game there is a puzzle where lions statues are introduced. At the end of the level a puzzle needs to be completed based on what direction they were facing. None were on the main route through the level, meaning that they could be easily missed, and two of them are far enough back in the area that several minutes of back tracking is required. In the end it was easier to brute force the combination that to do the steps correctly.
The problem is that the game itself is solid, it is just the little in-between moments that subtract from it the most. The gameplay loop isn’t tight enough to keep the player engaged when small stumbling blocks are encountered. There is fun to be had, but the moment that the foot is removed from the gas in the slightest almost all desire to go back and finish is also removed. This isn’t helped by the fact that the random enemies seem to take more damage than they should, and many have truly annoying RNG based movement patterns.
Fans of the genre will find something here to fill their time until Silksong, or the next game by Team Ladybug come out. The problem is that people who only really like those titles, and not the lesser-known entries, will probably get bored quickly. The title isn’t that expensive, and sales happen all the time on the Switch, so if you are interested it is best to wait until then.