“Let me introduce myself; I’m a man of hate and disgust.”
That’s one of the many angst-ridden, teenage diary quality lines spoken by the seemingly middle-aged, Tommy Wiseau-looking unnamed mass-killer in Hatred. He is on a genocide-suicide mission because he hates humanity. That’s pretty much the story and the level of character development in the first game by Destructive Creations.
Hatred is a needlessly difficult game that has a lot of unrealized potential. For gameplay as simple as the story, it really shouldn’t be this frustrating. It’s an isometric shooter that is reminiscent of Hotline Miami and even the classic Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Both of which have much better controls and an appropriate level of difficulty that is a part of the game rather than from a defect of the game. As it is the controls, whether you are using mouse/keyboard or a game controller, which are the game’s own worst enemy.
The game opens with a tutorial, thankfully. Going in blindly would offer more frustration than already provided. It should be as easy as aim the reticle and shoot, but when there is chaos on the screen, you are often trying to deal with too many things, so you lose track of where it’s aimed. There is a mini-map at the bottom left of the screen that doesn’t really offer much help outside of showing the general direction of points of interest.
So, as for the objective of each level, it is to kill as many people as you can, go to points of interest and kill everyone there, and kill a certain number of police officers and then soldiers before you move on to the next level to slaughter a bunch of innocents again, go to different points of interest, and kill an even larger amount of police and military.
However, it’s very important to clear out those points of interest – which can include locations such as a bank, train station, coffee shop, and an electronics store selling the new “APHONE” – because they afford you “respawn points.” If you want to progress in this game, you absolutely need these respawn points, because when you die, you have to start the whole stage again. Using one of the few respawn points you do get, you get a second wind without losing progress. But, this system often falls short of being a decent respawn system because of the fact you keep dying. It would have been much better to have a checkpoint system akin to Hotline Miami because of the terrible controls. If the controls were not so clunky and the combat was difficult while being fair, then the current system would work.
In any given level, you are amongst innocent civilians running in panic aimlessly, screaming, and often toward you. You can dropkick these civilians to perform executions, which are the only way you can regenerate your health. But, when the police and military come at you from all sides shooting, it’s hard to decide to keep shooting and try to find someone wounded to execute, or just run for it. Either way, it was a toss-up to whether I died or not. And, even though the civilian AI is wonky, they can – and often – pick up weapons that are laying on the ground to defend themselves.
It’s best to try and stay by walls for cover until they are destroyed. You can also go into vehicles, but because they explode very easily, it’s best not to. The exception is the level at the train station in which you have an armoured military vehicle with a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on it. It can be used strategically to take out a lot of people, but is something that can explode after being shot at a few times, too.
Another strategic weapon to keep in your arsenal is the flamethrower. It can annihilate large crowds fast, but doesn’t leave wounded people to execute. It is advised to keep it in your arsenal, which contains up to three weapons. Counter to the flamethrower, there are weapons that often are a detriment to you more often than not, which includes the shotgun. The shotgun, ironically, isn’t good to take down multiple people in crowds, and is slow between shots. The pistol is a much better alternative because it has a fast firing speed and often wounds people, which provides chances at getting more health. Other weapons you come across includes assault rifles such as the AK, which you start out with, M16, submachine guns such as the MP5 and the Uzi, and explosive weapons like a rocket launcher. You also have a separate arsenal for throwing weapons that include grenades, Molotov Cocktails, and flashbangs. The pistol and submachine guns should be reserved for civilians and regular police, and the more powerful assault rifles should be reserved for armored SWAT and military.
Overall, it’s probably best to take your time and try to do hit and run tactics.
A great way to limit unnecessary frustration at the start of the game is to choose easy difficulty. Easy is hard enough, and I would be surprised if there are many out there that will be trying to attempt a no-death run on hard or even medium.
Most of the positives of Hatred come from the art style and the atmosphere. It’s an inky black-and-white with certain elements, like sirens, blood, and fire, standing out with color. The audio, also, is great. The tone of the music complements the visuals and helps set the mood. It’s often pretty creepy. And even though there are only so many of these animations, the executions are satisfyingly brutal. The murderer often uses his combat knife to stab the person in the eye, in the back, the stomach, or slit their throat. And, depending on the weapon you have, he uses that weapon to either smash in the person’s head or shoot them in the head or heart. If you have the flamethrower equipped, he incinerates them. This is all at no cost to your amount of ammunition. But, if you do get tired of seeing these animations, you can turn them off. Additionally, something that might become annoying, but is arguably amusing, is the dialogue of the main character. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, he is a grown man that seems to act like an angst-ridden teenager dressed in a black trench coat and has long, black, unkempt hair (and, again, he reminds me of Tommy Wiseau). His dialogue is of the calibre of such a teenager. When he kills someone, he says in a deep voice pseudo-poetic lines like “sometimes I kill them too fast,” “this is not simply a killing spree…it’s a mission!” and “do you hear your guardian angel crying? I do.” It would be really hilarious to hear a lot of these lines in Tommy Wiseau’s voice.
What’s impressive about the engine is the destructible buildings, objects, explosions, and fire effects. It would get boring very fast if it were not for the destructive effects.
If you are wanting to play this game solely because of shock value and to see what the controversy is, don’t. Its controversy is unwarranted and the game doesn’t deserve the AO rating from the ESRB. It’s just a mindless isometric shooter that frustrates too often. If you like the art style, general gameplay, and feeling of the game, it’s definitely worth having to play in short bursts. But, just to be safe, get the game when there is an inevitable Steam sale.
Acknowledging the good parts of the game, it’s a good first attempt by Destructive Creations. If the controls, AI, checkpoint system, and variety in the game were to be reworked, it would be very promising. Perhaps they will put all the best they have learned from this experience into their next game. I would look forward to that.