Not Worth Hating
Before it came out, people had a lot to say about Hatred . Many said that it was disgusting, a sick parody of what gaming and art should be about, exalting violence and sadism for no purpose other than to revel in gory hedonism. Others said that it was a shining example of free speech standing out against censorship in a world that had become too concerned with stifling creative voices that do not fall in line with the popular world’s conception of proper video game subject matter.
These complex sociopolitical and philosophical arguments raged for months, providing the developers enough free publicity to catapult the game to the top of the Steam best sellers list on the day of its release. However, the reality of Hatred is a lot simpler and less exciting than the controversy, as reality tends to be. The reality of Hatred is that its pretty normal, and normalcy isn’t really anything to have a controversy about.
Beneath all the scandal and flames, Hatred is a dual stick isometric shooter, and that’s about it. Aim with one stick, shoot with another, press some buttons to sprint, duck, and throw grenades. It’s honestly nothing we haven’t seen before. Of course, the scandal was all about the fact that you are playing a serial murderer killing for the hell of it. This is the case but it barely has any emotional impact. The camera is pulled so far out, rightfully so for the genre of game it is, that kills don’t look embellished at all. The only really gory violence we see is in cutscenes and executions. Frankly, we have seen much worse with games like Manhunt .
These ant-like people you are killing don’t feel like human beings, they feel like targets. They simply fall over whenever you kill them, littering the ground like refuse and blending in to the game’s black and white environments. This is odd because the people who were defending Hatred seemed to do so because they, “like killing in a safe fantasy environment” but killing these targets really doesn’t give any sense of accomplishment at all. It barely registers as killing, instead registering as target practice, so I don’t know how anyone can gain enjoyment from it.
In general, Hatred follows a fairly simple format. You are tasked with killing a certain amount of civilians, cops, or whatever, and then you have to escape. There are a few exceptions and twists, including some vehicle levels which control horribly, some puzzle style levels where you have to make your way around people who are more heavily armed than you or navigate through some claustrophobic spaces, but in general you are just being asked to kill and survive the response to your killing. It is, essentially, what we all do when we get bored in Grand Theft Auto , except it’s an entire game of it. It’s not just a distraction that you get to fool around with because you noticed a tank code in your favorite gaming magazine, it’s the central conceit of the game.
For that matter, it’s not as impressive as games like Grand Theft Auto . If the game brought out things like the National Guard, tanks, helicopters, and maybe the Truckasaurus or something, maybe I could have had fun repeatedly causing wanton death and destruction, but instead we get the same enemies and victims recycled from level to level, with the biggest variation being the amount of health they have.
You also have a very limited selection of weapons to fool around with, which I think was the most disappointing. I was fully expecting Hatred to give me a whole selection of horrendous torture tools to shamelessly mutilate victims with. Instead, I got a couple guns, and that’s it. Nothing new or interesting, just the basic gun, the shot gun, the machine gun, the SMG, so on so forth.
The most interesting aspect of Hatred is, honestly, the destructible terrain. It’s kind of cool to be able to blow up walls and barricades in order to make new paths through a level. This actually does feel like you are causing chaos and mayhem, but has absolutely nothing to do with the murder that the game sold itself on. Actually, if it focused more on level layout and environmental destruction, and less on its own pseudo philosophical insanity monologues, this might have been a pretty compelling game.
Hatred ’s main character, the Antagonist, is crazy. He is completely and utterly crazy, wanting to cleanse the world for some reason, and kill the innocent for some other reason. He constantly mutters to himself about the filth of the world, how worthless they are, how pathetic everything is. He never shuts up! It’s hard to take him seriously because his words have no coherence and the only thing the serve to do is let us know that he wants to kill everybody, which was already well established considering the point of the game is, “kill everybody.”
Hatred advertises itself as pure gaming pleasure, bereft of story or purpose. You aren’t supposed to care about the main character. You are supposed to lose yourself in the slaughter. But I can’t do that, not for any political or moral reason, but because the slaughter isn’t fun. It’s way too easy, doesn’t offer much variety, and never makes me feel like I am accomplishing anything. The mechanics produce no pleasure.
Instead, I think the violence itself is supposed to cause pleasure, like the act of slaughtering others is a reward in its own right. Except this too just doesn’t resonate with me. It’s not like the adrenaline rush you get from watching Kratos rip a cyclops’s eye out of its socket, the thrill of watching a Gears of War chainsaw execution, or the hilarity of watching a Mortal Kombat fatality. It’s just boring.
I’m not earning any of these kills and I don’t know who I’m killing, so I can’t experience a thrill for story reasons. I’m assuming this game was supposed to appeal to the sort of people who would draw pictures of their teachers getting mauled by tigers in their notebooks in high school, but I was one of those people, and there was more story to that drawing than there is to Hatred . I really didn’t like my teacher!
Don’t get me wrong, Hatred isn’t a terrible game. It plays just fine. The controls are tight. The graphics are actually quite good. The black and white aesthetic is pleasing and fits the tone. It suffers from some bugs and freezes, but even so, for twenty dollars it’s a halfway decent deal. There are a lot of worse dual stick shooters out there, but there are a lot of better ones too.
And that is Hatred ’s biggest problem. It’s just unremarkable, which is disappointing after all the remarks we all made about it. It’s just a game. It’s mediocre. It’s run of the mill. It’s another indie game that uses another established formula to give us a few hours of repetitive gameplay that may or may not be to your liking. It doesn’t do anything grand and innovative, but it also doesn’t do anything wrong or heinous outside of its own overhyped controversy.
It’s not more violent than what we have seen before.
It’s not making a statement.
It’s just an average game, which I think is the last thing Hatred wanted to be.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.3 Graphics
I like the black and white aesthetic, even if it makes enemies hard to see. 3.5 Control
The controls are actually pretty tight and responsive. 2.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
I don’t particularly care for the gravelly voiced protagonist. 2.0 Play Value
It’s dull, repetitive, and not worth its own controversy. 2.2 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|