[Hatred is an AO-rated video game. So don’t look if you’re a kid or offended by lots of violence]
At the beginning of the month, Hatred released onto Steam. The game’s release marked the first time an “Adults Only” (AO) rated video game has been available for sale on the platform. Most games that you consider violent are rated M for Mature; Battlefield, Call of Duty, even Grand Theft Auto are all M-rated video games. To achieve the infamous AO rating, a game must go above and beyond to really deliver a violent experience.
Originally, Hatred debuted on Steam as part of the Greenlight program, where Steam users can vote on games they wish to see made available on the platform. Valve took note of the game and removed it from Greenlight. Even Epic Games asked the developer to remove the Unity branding from the game’s promotional material. Gabe Newell ultimately reversed the decision, and allowed Hatred to return to Steam Greenlight, paving the way for its eventual June 1st release.
Now that Hatred is out, I sat down with the game last night and played it for a bit.
The game features an unnamed man who, for unknown reasons, decides that it’s his duty to rid the world of as many people as possible before he is killed in the process. The game starts with the player guiding the guy out of his home and then running through his neighborhood killing as manly neighbors as possible before the police show up.
From there the game escalates to heading to the police station where a number of terrified residents have flocked to for shelter. You’re tasked with blasting your way through the police barricade outside and breaking through their defenses in order to kill everyone inside.
Hatred is a really, really, really dark game.
The antagonistic character is just a man, so beyond a generous amount of health to absorb a dozen or so bullets, he can die. The only way to recover health in Hatred is by performing executions; walk up to a wounded person rolling around on the ground, and hit Q to trigger a cutscene that shows the unnamed man killing the wounded person. From grabbing the wounded person’s head, shoving a pistol in their mouth and pulling the trigger, to a simple flurry of belly stabs, the player witnesses these scenes up close as the camera detaches from the isometric angle and drops down to street level, in order to witness the murder with as much detail as possible. When the murder is completed a bit of health is refilled.
I’m not sure what the developers were going for, with Hatred. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of message here, any sort of reason for the violence, beyond the weird, video game power-trips that other super violent games seem to center on. But even State of Emergency (previously one of the most violent shooters I’ve ever played) had a reason for its madness, while in Hatred you kill because the unnamed guy just decides that’s what he wants to do.
The writing in the game is pretty vapid too. Throughout the game the unnamed man says things like, “Only my weapon understands me,” and, “Can you hear your guardian angel crying? I can.”
On top of the meaningless violence and directionless plot, Hatred has a few issues that are a result of the top-down camera view and the game’s visual style. Because it’s in near-total black and white, and because the camera is withdrawn, getting stuck on things is a common occurrence simply because you can’t see things very clearly. It all blends together. There could be a cop standing ten feet away, but I wouldn’t see him until he starts shooting at me.
Holding Left-ALT does highlight weapons and people, but having to play the game while holding Left-ALT the entire time is a bit silly.
I honestly can’t recommend Hatred to anyone. There’s just no point to it all. It’s exactly the kind of video game that I wish never existed. It’s exactly the kind of game that absolutely hurts the game industry, and everyone who works in it.
The only people who I can see liking this game, are the writers at FOX News warming up their type-writers to squeeze out yet another “Look How Bad Video Games Are” segment.
A review copy of Hatred was given to Epic Brew by Destructive Creations.
Sources: [Gamespot “Valve Removes Controversial Massacre Sim From Greenlight“][Gamespot: “Gabe Newell Steps in to Reinstate Controversial Shooter on Steam“]