Murder simulator. Terms like this are usually thrown around by angry politicians and principled lawyers, but rarely by experienced game industry professionals. Hatred was different, being torn to shreds by multiple publications during its development. They questioned its moral premise, its reason for being. With the final product hitting hard drives now, is Hatred any good? The short answer is no.
Hatred tells the story of The Antagonist – a man who hates everything and everyone, and wants only to remove the human race from existence via a brutal killing spree. That’s it. Forget about character development, motivation, or revelation. Hatred is purely about killing everything in sight, and it’s disturbing.
“Hatred is purely about killing everything in sight, and it’s disturbing.”
Many games allow for the slaughter of innocent bystanders, so why is Hatred more troubling to play? The problem lies in choice. While open world games allow for collateral damage, Hatred requires it, going so far as to have objectives listing the number of innocents you need to kill before moving on, and restoring your health for the overly graphic executions. Games like Hotline Miami require killing, but at least provide some reasoning for its necessity. Hatred does not, to the detriment of its premise.
Some levels offer ‘side objectives’, but these utterly fail to provide any sort of diversity or variety to the gameplay. All game events and goals are singularly devoted to killing indiscriminately, with very little diversity in terms of level design or visual presentation. By the second level I was already praying for gameplay twists that never came, instead being subjected to endless repetition of the dullest sort.
The whole game is film noir style, with only explosions breaking up the black and white aesthetic. It looks nice, with reasonably detailed characters and environments. The really impressive technical component is the destructibility of structures. Buildings break apart believably, and provide immersion I deeply wish would be adopted in other games. Shattering my ability to engage with the game however is the game’s mechanical framework, which is frankly a mess.
I played with an Xbox One controller, seeing as this is a twin stick shooter. The controls are simple but not very intuitive, mapping several functions to the same buttons. Movement is clunky, with a sense of weight that makes gameplay feel clumsy. The sluggish and imprecise aiming cursor led to numerous undeserved deaths. Characters also tend to get hung up on ground objects they should clearly be able to step over, and invisible walls prevent passage through spaces large enough for the physical character.
Most annoying is the character AI. Police and bystanders have all apparently developed X-Ray vision, as they can see through any and all structures, and often fire repeatedly at walls they could not know you are standing behind. It’s a huge oversight in a game that often requires a swift tactical retreat for survival. At other times, bystanders simply stand still while a gun-toting madman mows them down. They might run around and scream, but half the time they run towards you – it’s not a believable or even passable AI implementation.
Hatred is a subpar twin stick shooter whose only claim to fame is its Adults Only rating from the ESRB. The novelty of the rating and some good destruction tech does not make up for the coated-in-molasses control, idiotic AI, and feeling of unease the game puts forth. Worse yet, the game is boring, repetitive, and simply not fun. Save your money for something with more substance.