Hunt the Night is a retro-style action-adventure game developed by Moonlight Games and published by DANGEN Entertainment. It released on Steam on April 13, 2023, and I was drawn to the graphics style as it reminded by of Morbid: The Seven Acolytes. The story is based around a similar dark fantasy lore however the gameplay is different with Morbid being an aRPG and Hunt the Night being utilising a much more challenging Bloodborne style requiring skill and a lot of patience. I appreciate difficult games but without a map and save points being few and far between, I struggled a lot though still enjoyed my time in the game.
It is the 9th Age of humanity. The cycle of day is ruled by humans, the night one by horrid creatures. Despite its efforts, humanity is annihilated with every arrival of the Night. A group of humans, calling themselves ‘The Stalkers,’ discovered how to use the power of darkness to their advantage and fought the Night. However, it was not enough, and with every new dawn humanity rose again knowing that, with darkness, comes extinction. We play as Vesper armed initially with a sword and a pistol.
I love this kind of art style with an atmosphere that is built with the awesome and sometimes intense soundtrack and sound effects. The terrain has segments that will kill you if you touch it which can be hard to discern. You do learn to negotiate it, but it was frustrating at times. It made me question any new terrain type that I saw, with a quick dash over it to check if it was safe or not. There were also rooms that I couldn’t do anything with what I had on Vesper at that time, so would need to return to later with bigger and better abilities. This is both exciting as it gives you reason to return, but also frustrating because I’m exploring here and now, I want to see everything and then move on. That’s likely just a me problem but again without a map, I would enter rooms wondering if I had been there, and it was one of the rooms I couldn’t do anything in yet.
The boss fights were super tough on first introduction to them. I would go in hacking, slashing, dodging and generally mashing buttons as if this is an aRPG, then get slapped back to souls-like reality by the boss. It is where I then slowed down and took a few attempts to learn the bosses audible and visual tells, then work out how best to take it out without it costing me too much health. We have eight health blips and simple monsters will take off 1-2 blips with each hit, while some stealthy and ranged mobs would hit me for 3-4 each hit meaning I couldn’t take too many of those blows at once. Health is only replenished at save points and can be upgraded through gameplay later in the story, or with bonus items you discover.
Through our travels we will find new melee and ranged weapons, each with different hit and fire outputs. Some weapons will be quick hitters but do small damage, and larger weapons swing slower but do much more damage. You can see each weapon’s DPS in the menu screen. You can have three ranged weapons equipped that you switch to and slowly upgrade. I generally used the basic pistol unless I knew what monsters I was up against. Later on, we can buy hunt contracts which provide a named target for you to go toe-to-toe and push your combat skills to the limit. Vanquishing these contracts nets you bonuses to your maximum health.
There are environmental puzzles to solve, and clues are given either visually with switches or gemstones that need to be illuminated, or by reading books and plaques nearby. The puzzles with switches usually meant clearing out rooms ahead and activating another switch. There were a couple that had timed switches involving well-timed jumps across gaps and dealing with mobs that increased the heart rate a little. While some puzzles were cryptic, such as activating a set of statues in a particular order. These broke up the difficult gameplay and were a nice reprieve to slow down and face something I could beat with my mind rather than my physical skills.
These puzzles give you more reasons to go off and explore further and in doing so you will unlock new weapons and upgrades for Vesper. Given there are no XP levels to achieve, it’s these items that are the only method to feel more powerful. I appreciated being able to swap between them too if my current tactics and method of fighting wasn’t being successful. Sometimes having more health isn’t as good as doing more damage, and vice versa.
Overall, Hunt the Night is a very challenging 2D action game that requires patience and skill. Without any form of map, I got lost numerous times, but the puzzles broke up the gameplay well. It was even more rewarding to feel progression through exploration and unlocking new equipment to then take on tougher monsters and bosses.
This review utilised a key provided by PR Hound and Hunt the Night is available now on Steam with console version in development.