Huntdown is a 2D side-scrolling, cover-based shooter that’s available on all major platforms for $19.99
Huntdown is such a unique game, just off the basis of what it is: a 2D side-scrolling cover shooter. I can't think of any side scrolling shooter where taking cover was one of the main gameplay mechanics. While you go through the levels, you will see open doors you can go in to take cover, and many boxes and other environmental items you can duck down to take cover behind. It was something that I had to train myself to do, since it's so out of the ordinary, but once I got the hang of it, it's an amazing concept.
The story was a fun homage to 80’s action movies, with the very charismatic enemies and the cheesy one liners our main characters spew out, randomly, while going through each level. The story has you playing as a bounty hunter going after different groups and leaders that the police can't or won't go after.
You have three bounty hunters to choose from, and the only difference, gameplay-wise, is their base weapon that you start each level with. They are similar enough where your choice won't affect you much. I recommend switching it up to play with all three to hear all the fun quips they have to offer.
The gameplay is what makes this stand out. As I already mentioned, you can take cover, which still, just thinking about it, blows my mind in a 2D game. The other major gameplay mechanic is all the item pickups. You start with a basic gun, but you will do everything you can to not use it, with all the weapons you will find. All of the weapons are varied and feel great to use. You will find your standard weapons—assault rifles and sniper rifles—and find more obscure items, like katanas.
There are four groups that you are hunting down; the structure is the same but it doesn’t get repetitive. Every mission works the same way: you fight your way through a bunch of enemies and then find the bounty. The bounty is a boss battle and then the level is over. With a game with so many boss battles, I would expect them to get repetitive, but they do not. It's a huge accomplishment to make every boss feel unique. The bosses are not just bullet sponges, they have patterns to learn, and all behave differently.
Boss fights were a huge highlight in this game.
Another accomplishment of this game is the progression that you make as a player. You do not learn any new abilities or get any upgrades to increase any of your player stats. There were many times I would struggle with a boss and think this is impossible, "how can I beat this?" but somehow you eventually do beat it. You learn what to do in different scenarios which makes it feel rewarding when you do take that boss down.
Looking at this game can be deceiving. It looks like an old school action platformer, but it's not, on either account. Many games that look like this have a lot of jumps you have to perfectly time while dealing with the enemies on screen. There is virtually no platforming in this game. Most jumps you have to make, you can miss, and not die from falling. The other thing is, it has the aesthetic of an older game but it plays like a modern game. The way you shoot, the way you can take cover, everything has a modern feel to it and will feel right at home to most gamers.
The game is difficult but it never felt like any encounter could not be overcome. Since there are no upgrades, or ways to power up your player, when you overcome something you were stuck on, it was solely based on your skill as a player and learning how to react in each situation. It was truly rewarding.
Huntdown is unique, difficult, and very rewarding. It's a fun story and idea but the gameplay makes it stand out. After rolling credits, you unlock an even harder difficulty, and it never stopped being fun to me. This is one I give two thumbs up and I highly recommend it. See you out there, bounty hunter.
Final Score: 9/10
For more reviews, be sure to check out my thoughts on Google Stadia, Marvel's Avengers, Simulacra, and my new podcast: Game Bites, the latest entry in The Spinchoon Podcast Network (check out Flix & a Six here). As always, check us out on Twitter @TheSpinchoonand I’m @Big_Broons.