I grew up playing some of the toughest platformers this industry has ever known.
Turrican. Shadow of the Beast. Rainbow Islands. Ghouls and Ghosts, to name a few.
The 80s was a real golden age for the action platformer, producing gem after gem with tough frame to frame action.
Revisiting these games now I often get my ass kicked, but back then I would spend hours in front of my screen, gradually trying to make progress.
My patience for these things has certainly taken a knock over the years, but the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I got when beating one of those tough stages has rarely been bested.
Huntdown is the closest action platformer I’ve played in recent times that can be compared to those games I grew up with. From the first time you boot up, Easy Trigger Games just completely nail it.
The overly lengthy intro sequence with a stream of text and a still image makes it feel like a hallmark Psygnosis game.
Those steady camera pans, that moody black aesthetic, and even down to the vintage character and stage select screens. It’s so old school.
The 16-bit art style gives the impression of what an 80s perceived notion of a post-apocalyptic future might look like. Its character collages are loaded with charisma, and there’s messages all over the walls that make neat pop culture references you’ll know and love.
Huntdown even has a similar kind of difficulty curve – no explanation of what to do and how to do it. It just lets you get on with it, bullets whizzing past your head and contracts to claim. It has no qualms about throwing you in at the deep end.
Pretty much immediately, you’re side-scrolling, bouncing between platforms, blasting barrels, and ducking in archways to protect yourself at all costs.
The flow and fluidity of the game is first class and the arsenal of weapons at your disposal is seriously fantastic.
From sub-guns, to shotguns – UZIs and Rocket Launchers – the gunplay always feels fresh and dynamic, and its creativity rarely lets up.
As one of three bounty hunters, you’re squaring up against vigilantes that are running the streets, but also their thug bosses who range from a professional wrestler to a Shogun Warrior. There’s even a giant Anaconda to fight.
Fortunately, you can buddy up with a friend if you need it, working side by side to take down the threat, though flying lonesome isn’t all that bad with the game’s checkpoint system, facilitated by Tony’s Surgery Repairs.
Every time you’re killed, you’re kicked out of the back of Tony’s van, repaired like brand new – sort of – and ready to fight again. But be careful how many times you die, as it’ll be tallied up against you at the end when your score is counted.
This game is a tour-de-force, the soundtrack is a love letter to every great sci-fi film from the 80s, as is the overblown weaponry, neon lighting, and quirky costume choices. For a retro side-scrolling fan like me, it’s absolute heaven.
But even if you’re not, through it all, Huntdown is just a damn good fun game to play. It’s tough, but never completely unfair. There’s action-aplenty and cheesy one liners. Huntdown just manages to hit all the right nostalgic notes and is one of this years’ big surprises that is pleasing to the eyes, ears, and thumbs.
Huntdown is now available on PC. PS4, XO, and Switch.
Reviewed on PS4
Code supplied by Coffee Stained Publishing