‘Hatred’ was well and truly known across the globe leading up to its release, but for all the wrong reasons. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve heard about this game, or at least this games core theme; mass murder. But while everyone is happy to jump about and ask ‘What’s it about?’ or ‘Why is it about this?’ one thing alluding most people is the most important question of all. How is it?
Players take control of a nameless protagonist who we hear is having a pretty bad day. He’s finally gotten fed up with the world, and has decided to do something about it; kill everyone in it. Cue unspeakable violence and mass murder.
That’s pretty much the whole gist of the game, main objectives ranging from ‘Kill 20 Civilians’ to ‘Kill 80 Civilians’. Each level tasks you with wiping out the general population of an area, then dealing with the law enforcement that comes calling in response. The player progressively gets stronger resistance, being pitted against SWAT and the Army in spades as the game gets on, the latter not being afraid to use weaponry probably best reserved for another army. But that’s just how good we are here, ain’t no one or nothing going to stand in the way of completing some sweet objectives and wreaking havoc on the world.
There are secondary objectives throughout the game, and the rewards definitely help in the later levels, but I can’t help feel these should have been the primary goal. Slaughtering targeted groups like hobbyist hunters, or disrupting questionable social behaviour like the launch of a new phone, if expanded upon, would have made for much more interesting missions than simply ‘kill everyone, but if you get a chance, go do this too’ for the duration. Instead we have a game that progressively gets worse for the simple fact we’re repeating the same thing level in, level out.
Hatred’s actual gameplay mechanics are well developed though, being one of the finest examples of a twin stick shooter to date. While it does suffer from a poor UI that’s really inhibiting when the more intense action starts, the core gameplay is excellent. Developer Destructive Creations proved they definitely know what they’re doing and haven’t just made an insane game for the sake of it. Made with the Unreal Engine 3, Hatred has a well-polished core that, for at least a while, genuinely makes mass murder an entertaining gameplay experience. Even though you never really know why, it just doesn’t matter – go kill some people. Lots of them, actually.
Aside from the screams and pleas of civilians or dying police, Hatred’s protagonist gets the only dialogue. It’s consistently terrible, and equally hilarious, and even now I’m still unsure if that was the designers’ intention. The player character is like a depressed Duke Nukem, with this brutally unwitty and stupid one-liners, and hearing him blurt them out in the most stereotypically rough voice imaginable while jamming a knife through some poor woman’s eye, or blasting the back of a bleeding soldier’s head with a shotgun, makes it hard to take said atrocities very seriously. It’s great!
Hatred has a pretty good look about it, too. It’s not quite black & white, but is so saturated that it almost looks it. Aside, of course, from the blood. Bright red victory still stands out amongst the dark, depressive scenery. It’s not original, sure, but it works very well here, and suits the theme of the game. Some of destructible environments though, are terrific to behold. Lob a grenade into a restaurant or some poor chaps’ house, and witness the destruction as the walls crumble and objects fly. It’s not a very dynamic feature, but it visually makes for some very cool moments.
Hatred is definitely a simple game, and lacks any kind of innovation or even top tier quality. However, that doesn’t stop it from accomplishing exactly what it set out to do; somehow turn mass murder into entertainment. A true guilty pleasure, Hatred wraps a well-developed core game with unspeakable violence and mayhem which make it a strangely fun experience that you almost feel bad for enjoying. And even with all the thoughtless design choices and repetition, Hatred looks and plays well, Destructive Creations showing that they’re a team with promise, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.