For short, atmospheric-driven point-and-click adventure games, I try to go in blind. Maybe, at most, I’ll read a brief summary of what it is all about, but I’m probably already interested in playing based on either its zany title or if a screenshot revealed an appealing art style. I figure I’ll learn along the way, and it’s not like I’m committing to some hundred-plus JRPG where there are many spinning plates to pay attention to. Well, for Running Zombie’s The Hunt, I read a bit more than usual before exploring its spooky wilderness, and I’m so thankful I did, because without that knowledge, I’d never have been able to complete it.
The Hunt is an otherworldly and horror-heavy point-and-click adventure game that has you tracking down the legendary Elk King, for reasons not clearly stated. This Elk King is a demon that has cursed the surrounding forest, as well as those that pursue it. Also, I keep mistyping it as Elf King, which Thranduil would not approve of–my bad. Before venturing off into the woods, you grab a gun, knife, and your trusty dog Arrow, which I can only assume is a reference to The Point. Anyways, along the way, you’ll find clues, as well as fend off animal attacks, all in search of a mythological creature.
Since The Hunt is a point-and-click adventure game you can play in your browse, one only has to click on things to interact. Some objects will display descriptive text when you hover over them, but not everything you can interact with does this, which leads to a lot of clicking on everything…just to be sure. The game’s developers also seem to like to hide pertinent items and puzzle solutions along the far edges of the screen, where many might not even consider examining. This is the bit I mentioned reading earlier that really saved my skin. In terms of your inventory, it’s mostly weapons and tools, and these items are often used automatically if the stars are aligned and you are standing where you need to be standing. However, using the shovel to dig up the grave makes perfect sense, but the shovel remains in your inventory afterwards despite being depicted as on the ground after shoveling the dirt. I don’t know. The whole interface and way the puzzles are obscured from view makes for extremely awkward gameplay, nearly to the point of frustration.
For example, take a look at the screenshot at the top of this post. I picked it on purpose. See those trees and flowers to the far right side of the screen? Seem fairly nondescript. No descriptive text comes up if you hover over that area. Well, if you click near the “mute” button, but not actually on it, you’ll push the plants away, revealing a boat that will help you get across the island. I stumbled upon this solution through brute force. Or rather, brute clicking. I did not feel rewarded afterwards.
Here’s what The Hunt has going for it: atmosphere and sound department. Also, the art style is loose and grainy, but easy to fall into, like Thomas Cole’s paintings, and the animal attack jump scares did their job, catching me off guard by how fast they happened. I say all this because there’s something here, a glimmer of potential in a dark cave full of red eyes. Hopefully Running Zombie’s next adventure will require less clicking in corners like a madman and more logically tough puzzles. Otherwise, I’m less inclined to chase down that mysterious Elk King. For those curious, I took the “approach” choice when forced, and it did not end well for me or my dog. Sigh.