Title: Hunt the Night
Developer: Moonlight Games
Release Date: April 13, 2023
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: DANGEN Entertainment
Genre: Action Adventure
I always find how games balance difficulty through various upgrades, exploration rewards, and level-ups interesting. As some players can approach the challenge with nothing but the starter blade, others need to spend hours upgrading their characters to take on the hardships ahead. However, Hunt the Night from developer Moonlight Games doesn’t seem to care how long it takes you to get through a challenging situation. Your skills are all that’s needed to progress.
Hunt the Night begins as a story of redemption as Vesper completes missions for a group known as The Stalkers to make up for her father’s mistakes. However, that’s not the only thing she has to worry about. Humanity is on its last leg, and the small group of survivors alive is dwindling each day. Her current mission is to bring an end to the Night, which summons deadly creatures.
Vesper seems to be the only one capable of fighting back against this evil, but others offer their aid where they can. In addition, sub-events take place that highlight other characters and expand the scope of the supporting cast. The world becomes a lot bigger than I initially thought, and I was surprised by the depth of the lore.
In the later parts of the narrative, we learn that Vesper also has a pack with a spirit named Umbra. Their relationship expands over the narrative as the events come to a grand conclusion that I honestly wasn’t expecting. The game makes it easy to immerse yourself in this world and the many dangers that reside in it, but sometimes that’s a big ask as the writing is dense with world-building lore on top of flashbacks of Vesper’s life and her current trials.
Navigating the world of Hunt the Night reminded me a lot of La Mulana. You’re free to go in whichever direction you’d like, and townspeople will point you in general directions, but that’s about it. Still, progression came naturally, but I say that with some experience with these types of games. There’s very little handholding here, and simply progressing a few feet after your last death won’t provide any additional rewards to get further.
Puzzles are encountered throughout the narrative, which may require you to find feathers that provide hints on how to progress. Some of the puzzles can be a bit obtuse, but you’ll likely get through them if you take your time and analyze the hints provided.
The design has a bit of trial-and-error as new enemies come with unique attacks that will likely kill you a few times before you’ve mastered their movement. This design rolls out naturally through well-placed save points that replenish health and act as fast travel points later on. It’s possible that the enemy you face can take you out pretty quickly unless you are ready to react to their attacks.
The dodging system took some getting used to. I had to really understand the I-frames here, and you will too, if you want to survive. There’s a gauge that depletes each time you use a dodge, but I found it refills rather quickly, so you won’t be without a dodge for too long if you manage to deplete it. However, mastering the direction and timing is a different story, mainly because Vesper’s hitbox seems larger than I expected, and enemy attacks can be hard to avoid by design.
If you didn’t catch on by now, Hunt the Night is a brutally difficult game. However, a wealth of systems allow customization and upgrades to keep you alive a little longer. Still, I always felt like I was at a disadvantage to enemies. While part of me liked this challenge, there’s very little time to catch your breath unless you’re buying items for your next mission.
Vesper can equip weapons found throughout the environment, which range in attack strength and speed. Further, she has access to a Dark Power magical ability, new clothes, and a Moonstone, which adds some kind of buff. Unfortunately, only one of each can be equipped at a time so that you won’t be roaming around with five Moonstones buffing your girl up. However, there are also range weapons, which can each be upgraded throughout the game. However, there’s limited ammo that only refills by landing attacks.
I love the minimalistic design of the loadout system. It leaves players to choose how they wish to approach gameplay, but it doesn’t give you any slack to become overpowered. The only way to improve your stats is through equipment, so survival rides on the skill of the player.
Combat comes with audio and visual queues that let you know what type of enemy is around you and when they are about to attack. This is one of the strengths of the overall experience. This audio system has been heavily fine-tuned to assist the player in timing dodges. Further, the visual design gives you time to react to specific incoming attacks. It’s a great battle system that rewards patience with windows of high-damage opportunity.
Bosses are an entirely different experience. Just be prepared to die countless times during these encounters. However, I can’t deny that they are fun, as each boss has two phases and a handful of unique attacks. I was always surprised when facing a new boss because I couldn’t image ever defeating it. Twenty tries later; I got through.
Aside from the main mission, players can take on hunts which are powerful enemies that provide rewards. It’s a fun system that you don’t have to go too out of your way for unless you’re trying to do all of them. Further, players can also accept missions from townspeople who simply provide a hint about something out in the world, and you can chase it down or not.
Discovery is a significant part of Hunt the Night’s experience. The game features some beautiful pixel environments with some genuinely grotesque enemy designs. The bosses also received a ton of love, with some fantastic attack animations and a towering presence. However, general navigation weighs on the experience, and if you walk away for a couple of days, you may be confused about where to go next.
Hunt the Night is an incredibly challenging and fun action game. Progression relies heavily on the player’s skill and understanding of enemy attack telegraphs to avoid damage. Sure, you’ll die a lot, but the knowledge gained from each encounter will keep you alive until the boss fights. Puzzle also has some depth to them, requiring players to be immersed in the world to solve the trials. Luckily, this is easy, thanks to the detailed lore found throughout the game world.
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