REVIEW – This game from Nine Rocks Games is not an action-packed, adrenaline-pumping experience. It’s a hunting game. Therefore, there’s no wall running, wall jumping, double jumping or, say, a plasma launcher. You’ll have to look elsewhere for them. That being said, there is a market for such games (the Cabela’s series is an older example), but the execution is not up to the level you would expect after the basic concept.
Steam’s synopsis: “Become the new owner of a hunting lodge nestled among gorgeous habitats and rich animal populations. Explore vast open-world environments and hunt with a premium selection of firearms. Enjoy the perfect hunt on your own or with friends in co-op.”
Our character has spent several years here, having stayed in this small, secluded house in the past. During their childhood, summers were spent here, though the father never considered that his offspring might take up arms for a moment. It is a relatively poor backstory and might be morally questionable, as it seems to portray the father himself in a bad light, but the Way of the Hunter has this title for a reason. A local restaurant hires us to hunt some animals in the most ethical way possible. They must not die in much pain; therefore, we must target body parts that can take them out immediately if we hit them. Good luck with the heart, shall we say. That’s why plan B comes instead: shoot the animal in the leg. Then, it starts leaving a blood trail behind, and shortly afterwards, it bleeds out and falls dead, and we follow the trail. Or, if we weren’t precise enough, the target escapes, even if wounded. But before all of it, we have to get there in our car first, and alas, the handling is disastrous, and yes, we have to stop relatively far away, or our designated target will escape.
Then, once out of the car, we can activate our hunting instinct. It makes footprints visible, amplifies noises and makes it easier to detect locations frequented by animals. Next, we can become the new Elmer Fudd (in case you don’t know who he is, shame on you… it’s the bald failure of a hunter from Looney Tunes): approach your target slowly and stealthily. However, it doesn’t seem entirely stable because sometimes, you’ll go very slowly towards a deer, and after many minutes of agonizing movement, it will run off. In other cases, there have been instances of animals waiting, like some nihilistic NPCs, for their lives to end, and you have to aim well because most of the time, you’ll only get one shot, and remember that larger animals need bigger guns. Otherwise, you’ll have no chance of taking them down. Even if you don’t hunt much (and it doesn’t matter why), it’s worth stopping to admire the world. In this aspect, Way of the Hunter is pretty pleasant, and because there are two large maps to walk back and forth across, it can somewhat qualify as a relaxing experience.
The eternal chase
As you progress, the ‘legacies’ of your hunted (and primarily realistically responding) animals will turn up in your cabin. Still, you must play (and hunt) persistently enough to fill up your place with the results of all your labours. Meanwhile, you can unlock more equipment and weapons, so if you want to knock down a moose, you’ll have the tools to do so, but you can also imitate the sounds of other animals. Of course, it will all require money and the ability to invest in more powerful equipment rather than using your prey as a trophy to hang on the wall. However, that may not make Way of the Hunter fun enough. It gets repetitive and pretty quickly, and indeed there’s nothing to be ashamed of in terms of realism, but the screen summarising the hunt isn’t going to score you an eight or a nine out of ten.
True, the composition and density of the animals change, but the FOV looks pretty narrow, and the performance doesn’t seem particularly good on PC. There is cooperative gameplay, but it’s buggy and very minimalistic. Even the base game is buggy sometimes, and sometimes, progression bugs pop up, which earns the game sarcastic applause. As for the sounds, the water seemed below average, so even in this respect, Nine Rocks Games’ creation did not score well. Oh, and if you want to move faster, don’t expect full fast travel because that won’t be possible either: the developers have cut back on that.
Way of the Hunter drops from a six out of ten for its bugs and a seven out of ten for lack of coop depth. The game is average, but for those looking for a game in this genre, it is a recommended product, and the rating should be treated as a seven and a half out of ten. For everyone else, however, it’s a five out of ten because if in a hunting game, sometimes walking around in the environment is more exciting than shooting a badger, then the product in question should be treated with criticism. The fact that you can shoot a gun, and the feeling of doing so is not so bad, is not sufficient for success. Perhaps some older games would be worth looking towards.
+ The world itself is spectacular
+ Two large, walkable areas
+ Hunting has all the joys
– Poor co-op
– Several minor bugs
Publisher: THQ Nordic (Embracer Group)
Developer: Nine Rocks Games
Release: August 16, 2022.