Hunt: Horrors of a Gilded Age - Getting the Nightmare Witch off your back
If Hunt: Horrors of a Gilded Age proves anything, it's that undead horrors transcend time and place. The game is third-person action RPG set in the late 1800s. The setting is ideal, since the Industrial Revolution is still growing, long-distance communication is slow, and there are still large untamed parts of the world where monsters can hide. Hunt does not take place in an alternate world or timeline. Instead, the conceit is that players are in the real world, where events happened as they did in history, but with a dark underworld that few know or speak about.
If you've ever seen or heard of the TV show, Supernatural, then you have a general idea of what Hunt is about. You take the role of an ordinary human who has taken up the work of hunting and killing monsters of myth and folklore. In doing so, you team up with like-minded individuals that are willing to head out with you into the night to defeat an evil witch before she can raise an army of the undead.
To keep with the theme of taking place in the real world, players will have access to weapons that are authentic to the period. So, there won't be any strange fantasy spirit gun, but there will be plenty of rifles, pistols and shotguns to go around. That's not to say that everything will be grounded in reality. Players will be able to equip special skills and items to aid them in their monster hunting quests. For example, a character can use artifact to help guide him to his destination.
At the E3 2014 demonstration, a group of hunters come together to seek out the Nightmare Witch hidden in the Louisiana Swamps. The witch is an actual folklore figure, as are most if not all the boss monsters that will be featured in the game. Our demonstration starts with an oil mining camp where the workers have either been driven mad by the witch's influence or fell under her control. Whatever the case, they're out to murder you and your companions, so you'll have to take them out. Human enemies are fairly straightforward and will shoot at you. Later on, players encounter large, axe wielding, lumber jack type foes.
What sets Hunted apart from other action games is that missions are largely procedurally generated. Enemy placements, the map layout, encounters, and events are randomized so you never have the exact same experience twice.
After laying waste to some unwitting victims of the Nightmare Witch, players will move on to take on supernatural foes like undead monsters. The game takes a Left 4 Dead approach to handling dead players. So long as there are teammates still alive, dead players can be found later on in the game, trapped in a coffin or hanging by their feet from a rope. Teammates will have to rescue the player before any further tragedy befalls them.
Finally, players confront the Nightmare Witch, which has a killer scream and the ability to psychically pull a player into her world in spirit realm. This hapless player will be the only one who can see the witch, and teammates will have to follow his lead to get a sense of her location. Then they can concentrate their fire and reveal her.
Although Hunt: Horrors of a Gilded Age still has a lot of gameplay features to work out, the team at Crytek USA put together a very impressive game in just under a year. The demonstration looked very good and makes excellent use of CryEngine's features. These include impressive lighting effects, animations, and even dandelion seeds floating in the air. We still have to wait to see how character creation and progression works out, along with the kinds of skills players will be able to employ. But Hunt definitely has the potential to shine and become the next big 4-player co-op shooter.