Coffee Stain Publishing and Easy Trigger initially released their 80s-inspired action platformer Huntdown last year on PC and console, where it has since received plaudits across the board. But did you know that the game was initially designed with mobile in mind? Well, now it has returned to its original home and fortunately, very little has been lost in translation.
Huntdown takes place in a dystopian cyberpunk future, and you’ll play as one of three bounty hunters who make a living from maintaining order on these deadly streets. Each character has their own default pistol, which boasts infinite ammo, and a unique throwable item that gives them a little personality, although the differences feel fairly minimal.
How many levels are there in Huntdown?
Regardless of who you pick, you will be battling your way through 20 levels and swapping between a plethora of different guns along the way. Whether that’s a shotgun, a rocket launcher, an assault rifle or something more exotic, each weapon packs a satisfying punch, and you will find yourself more than happy to pick up a different gun whenever you run out of ammo.
The chunky gunplay is combined with excellent gameplay all around. Judging by the game’s stylish retro-inspired aesthetic alone, you might assume that Huntdown is a run and gun shooter. But although it serves as a love letter to 80s gaming and movie culture, the moment to moment action is a far more modern offering.
Rather than charging forward mindlessly, you will need to assess the environment around you and choose the best approach. You might want to hide beyond cover, slip into an open doorway or simply duck to avoid an incoming hail of bullets and bide your time before firing back. Other times rushing an enemy with a slower firing weapon is the way to go.
It makes everything feel much more methodical than the run and gun shooters of old, though it’s no less chaotic, particularly in the later stages. There is an impressive variety of enemies in the game, with more drip-fed onto the battlefield as you progress. You will find yourself charged by melee enemies, some of which utilise roller skates to give you even less thinking time, sniped from a distance or forced into cover by heavily armed foes wielding ludicrously massive machine guns.
There are even enemies that remain dangerous from beyond the grave. Kill a chap who’s brandishing a Molotov cocktail, and the ground beneath them will set ablaze whilst gunning a jetpack down will see the pilot return to terra firma with a dangerous explosion. Throw all these enemy types together, and you have to constantly adjust your strategy, relying on your reactions as much as your tactical nous.
How responsive are the touch-screen controls?
Thankfully, the controls are responsive and tight enough to keep up with all the action taking place on-screen. The only slight niggle is that the dash and throw buttons are quite small compared to the other commands, which led to a couple of incorrect inputs, though nothing hugely detrimental. Besides that, it’s a smooth experience, complemented by a flawless framerate that didn’t falter at any point on my Google Pixel 3a.
Aside from the standard levels, Huntdown also boasts an inventive roster of bosses to battle throughout your adventure, bringing a dash of welcomed variety. Each presents a different challenge that will test your reactions in a new way and keep you on your toes. They all possess quirky personalities too that pay homage to action films from the 80s. It’s sure to bring a smile to your face if you’re a fan of those cheesy one-liners the period is known for.
However, if that kind of dialogue grates on you, there is still plenty to enjoy with the rest of Huntdown’s presentation. It has an absolutely superb synth-wave soundtrack that perfectly matches the retro-styled cyberpunk streets of the game’s world, which is a visual treat if you enjoy pixel art and the animations are all top-notch.
Easy Trigger has put some effort into the smaller details too. In most run and gun games, enemies will only appear on the screen from the left or right-hand side. In Huntdown, you can see their shadows sneaking out of an alley or descending an escalator before joining the battle. It’s such a simple touch to see your foes exiting a train before they gun for you, but it serves to make the environment feel much more alive, rather than a mere backdrop for your killing spree.
Huntdown is an exhilarating action-platformer that can provide hours of entertainment through various difficulty settings and an arcade mode. It only really falters somewhat with the placement of its virtual buttons, though this hardly spoils the experience. Elsewhere, the cheesy 80s dialogue might not be for everyone, but the stellar presentation elsewhere is sure to be a winner for most.
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