Nihilist Simulator

Written by on Sun, Jul 26, 2015 4:00 PM
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I've done horrible unspeakable things in video games before, if for nothing more than to satisfy my own morbid curiosity. I'm the kind of person who splatters pedestrians in GTAV with my car, or tries to kill the kids in Skyrim. At some point we've all tried to push back at the boundaries of what's deemed acceptable. So when I heard of Hatred my morbid curiosity got the better of me and I knew I had to play it.

Hatred is an isometric twin-stick shooter from Polish developer Destructive Creations. The game's main feature is killing as many innocent bystanders as you can before your death. The unnamed protagonist explains that he's sick of the world and the people in it. After gathering weapons he stalks through his residential neighborhood, busy town centers, a moving passenger train, an army base, and a nuclear power plant, gunning down everyone he sees to make his dark vision a reality. So how well does Hatred live up to its controversy-courting ways?

Surprisingly, not as well as expected, and this is undeniably down to the lacklustre quality of the game itself. 

A good game, like a good book or a movie, keeps the audience engaged in order to express the emotional intent of the creators. This is even more relevant  in videogames, when the audience is experiencing the environment as the character themself, living out the events. Hatred feels broken. It's story and ultimately the emotions it attempts to convey do not work. If you were to go into Hatred expecting to feel or understand the pain and anguish of its nihilistic antagonist, it will fall short.

What leads to this feeling is twofold - the stylistic monochromatic visuals and the decision to play out via an isometric third-person viewpoint. It's not just a problem with the style either, it actually makes it near impossible to see your crazy maniac amidst the moonlit shadows of New York. While this does add some atmosphere, this is entirely negated when you lose track of your character. This usually means you’re stuck in a door or behind a shrub as the levels, while beautiful, are not very polished.

Hatred also suffers from a Hotline Miami 2-style problem with enemy line of sight. Half the time they're off screen shooting at you while you're trying and failing to walk around a foot-high thistle. If Destructive Creations had just taken the extra time to smooth out the level design this stylistic chose would have been top-drawer, but as it stands it would have been a stronger fit to see over-the-shoulder viewpoints or a slightly more varied colour palette.

That brings me to the shooting mechanics. Like in any game that requires you to shoot for most of its duration, it's of the utmost importance. It'll certainly cause a raised eyebrow or two to see just how little it appears Destructive Creations has worked on it. Every dev team has its priorities of course, but I can’t count the number of bullets I’ve wasted on trying to be accurate. You almost have to aim to the side of your target, and even then it’s up in the air if you hit anything. I've had a shotgun at close range feel like I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Point blank.

Yet more problematic is the fact grenades can't be manually arced over objects. Cue many an embarrassing moment in which meant I often ended up rebounding a grenade right on back at me off a desk. The very purpose of a grenade is to to throw it in places a bullet can't get, so this seems like quite an oversight. So much that the combat mechanics drifted from a nuisance to frustration within the first level. 

Developers should be applauded for straying away from the normal tropes in video games, such as health regeneration. Hatred attempts to circumvent this by having the sole method of healing revolve around executing the wounded and suffering. This sounds like an interesting idea until I realized it's done just as sub-par as most of Hatred seems to be.

Without the opportunity to aim down the sights and choose to wound someone by hitting an extremity, it becomes all to too easy to kill everyone rather than perform an execution (with one of the very few execution animations), and thus unable to heal. This running from danger and gunning down the masses for health strategy becomes old quickly and often the easier choice is to give yourself up to the mercy of the cops and respawn.

It's not all doom and gloom though, as the sewer level is a stand out, owed in part to its linear approach. It feels as if everything Destructive Creations worked towards  works well in tight quarters. It's fun picking off the SWAT team one by one around corners or exploding a stray propane tank to incinerate them all at once. It appears as if Hatred was made to fit this linear maze style but ended up getting more open area levels where the mechanics just don't work out as well.

A review of a game like this can't be done without talking about the controversy that envelops Hatred. Being pulled from Steam, getting national media attention, intervention from Gabe Newell, banned from Twitch. There's no doubt the controversy surrounding Hatred turned a lot of heads, and amongst a certain section of the gaming community it caused a lot of hype. It's clear Destructive Creations entire marketing campaign was bred on this controversy, and it's undeniable the subject matter has attracted more interest than the game itself would have been capable of. Destructive Creations used violence and controversy as a form of free advertising. (You can read more about the use of controversy to make profit in another article here.)

In theory Hatred could have been great but lacklustre development gets it thrown into a pit of mediocrity. It joins a stack of games I played once and never touched again, and that disappoints me on a personal level as I was hoping for so much more.

Pros

  • Artistic
  • Good Premise
  • Quirky One Liners

Cons

  • Camera View
  • Poor Aiming Mechanics
  • All Bark No Bite
Score

5.5

Decent

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20:32 Jul-29-2015

i'd review this game boring/boring

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10:10 Jul-27-2015

looks horror, hoooo!!

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23:14 Jul-26-2015

calling it a twin stick shooter is a little too far, for that to be the case, the twin stick option should be playable, but it's not.


I played it and it's just, well not very good. I do like the artistic style but that's about it.
Even killing in manhunt seemed less wrong cause you're killing off killers.

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18:52 Jul-26-2015

I played this game some hours, but not to the end. I agree with the score here, and it is certainly an in-depth, well written review. That said, I don't agree with each point. I thought the pseudo-monochrome graphics fit well with the intended mood. I didn't have trouble aiming. I did get lost to next goal often.

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18:03 Jul-26-2015

Excellent review! It mirrors a lof of what I wrote in my own review, although I think I was even more scathing about the game. Looking forward to reading more reviews from you.

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17:14 Jul-26-2015

Nice review. I briefly saw this game being played at the a friend's PC. Cant say I was impressed at all. Just purely meaningless killing. Not my type of game at all.

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17:07 Jul-26-2015

This is probably the best review of any game I have seen on Game-Debate so far.


Reported.

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17:04 Jul-26-2015

Nihilism in games, whichever way one slices it, is a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'-affair. Had high hopes for this but was let down by its repetitiveness. Props to the devs for at least sticking to their guns and giving zero ****s about the pseudo-SJW backlash that followed after its reveal.

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16:49 Jul-26-2015

This game does not deserve such an extense review xD , one of the worst game ive ever played and it cost me like 10 bucks !!!

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17:33 Jul-26-2015

You are right.
so much talk i heard, and non its true, the game sucks. Don't understand how some people tought that whould be a great game. 2 out 10 for me...

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02:27 Jul-27-2015

I would agree to a point, It was hard for me to keep playing at times XD But I'm glad I did since there are some fun parts to the game, just not enough :D

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16:34 Jul-26-2015

Agree!!

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16:17 Jul-26-2015

That's one awesome review bro :D
From what I can gather, Devs just had to smoothen up some small problems here and there to make it great but failed hmmm, Too much publicity may have been the cause of this perhaps.
Great review again :D

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02:19 Jul-27-2015

Thank you mate :)


Ya, I believe they had a great idea but maybe not the funding to do it properly. That or poor guidance by the big wigs XD

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16:10 Jul-26-2015

Well, it was expected that Hatred has nothing more than a huge load of controversial.
The game is taking itself too seriously, Postal for example has humor value, but this game just feels sick in a bad way. Though Hatred definitely deserves an award for the most unlikable protagonist ever, even Alex Mercer from Prototype seems like a nice fellow compared to this dude.

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16:15 Jul-26-2015

If you ask me, the game was made just to spawn controversial and to draw attention. This way people know of the studio and that they made a game like this, in other words, this game was made for the studio and publisher to become popular.

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02:25 Jul-27-2015

Right, like I said in the review, they used controversy for publicity. I think you both might like to read the last bit of this Since it explains it better and gives some great examples of this type of marketing.

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16:04 Jul-26-2015

great review, but you are being to generous :D

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02:21 Jul-27-2015

I just really like the idea of what it could be, I want someone to make something with a similar premise but do it proper.


Thanks for reading it c:

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