Hunter’s Legacy is a 2D platform that came out on Steam last year. I played it to death back then, calling it one of the most interesting games of the year, but somehow never got around to actually reviewing it. Last month, the game was released on PS4 and Xbox One so I decided to take this opportunity to put out a review and spread the love.
This is one of those games that does a single, specific thing really well, which makes it a must-have for fans of the thing it does.
In Hunter’s Legacy you play as an anthropomorphic warrior cat named Ikki who has to save her village from the darkness looming on the horizon. To do this, she must travel across the land, gather some things, and slay some monsters. It isn’t the most articulate narrative around, but it’s also not the focus of the game. Hunter’s Legacy is all about those mechanics.
The platforming of this game is immensely challenging and gratifying, recalling the best moments of Shovel Knight in the process. Platforming puzzles require swift maneuvering and clever use of the environment as well as the tools at your disposal. These sections further bring on the pain by mixing in combat, which is usually a simple affair. You can slash your swords, shoot your bow, and dodge-roll away from attacks. But when you’re fighting two hovering bees flinging projectiles at you whilst trying to get across a gap with three moving platforms, things can get a bit hairy.
None of this ever gets unfair or cheap because the controls are incredibly tight and precise across the whole game. Ikki slashes her swords with fluidity and her movements, jumps, and rolls are absolutely responsive. Switching between melee and ranged combat is a matter of hitting a button and slashing at an enemy, then rolling back to let loose an arrow is the kind of thing you only expect from the fight scenes on CW’s Arrow. It’s great stuff.
Hunter’s Legacy is a really pretty game.
Opting for a hand-drawn aesthetic with muted pastel colours, the game evokes those storybooks your parents read to you while you were a little baby. This aesthetic ties in neatly with the game’s overall tone and the nature of its story. It’s a clean and simple visual style accompanying and clean and simple hero’s journey. It all works just as it should. The game does have some jerky-looking animation. I say ‘looking’ because even though it looks kind of shoddy, it all feels incredibly slick when you’re actually playing the game, which leads me to think the animation was an intentional part of the visual style. Not sure what they hoped to achieve with it, though.
If I have one problem with Hunter’s Legacy, it’s the audio. Which ranges from average in some aspects to absolutely horrendous in others. Weapon and monster sounds are decent enough, but every time you miss a swing or an arrow and it hits a wall instead, the game produces this insufferable *clang* that makes my hair stand. I guess you can count that as incentive to be good at the game and never miss but who am I kidding? It’s bad. Every time you get hurt, Ikki lets out a hiss that is just as insufferable as anything else. But honestly, all of that audio is still pretty much bearable. The worst offender here is the soundtrack. It’s a high-pitched repetitive loop that’s just some of the worst music I’ve heard in a game in a while. It tries to recall the looping samples of classic games, I guess, but it doesn’t come anywhere close.
If you choose to play Hunter’s Legacy – and you should because it’s fantastic – turn off the music and listen to pretty much anything off your personal playlist.
Another slight problem with Hunter’s Legacy is the lack of a minimap. I’ve seen a few other games in the genre do this and it’s never pretty. Last year’s Salt and Sanctuary – another fantastic metroidvania – also lacked a minimap and was a game where I got lost a lot. Both of these games have Dark Souls as a clear point of inspiration, but the reason Dark Souls gets away with not having a map is because it’s much harder to get lost when you can freely look and move around a 3D space. 2D metroidvania games would do well to look at the original Metroid and Castlevania and just adopt a minimap that fills out as you explore the environment.
With everything said and done, Hunter’s Legacy comes out as a fantastic game even with the problems that it has. It’s not perfect, but the things it does right are things you won’t easily find outside of replaying Symphony of the Night for the billionth time. If you like tightly designed metroidvanias with great platforming and combat, you can do a lot worse than Hunter’s Legacy. Just bring your own playlist.
Hunter’s Legacy is out now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC and was reviewed using codes provided by Lienzo.