Hatred is a Twin stick shooter in which we take on the role of a mass murder, in his mission to “cleanse the world” from humanity. To accomplish this he, well actually he has no plan whatsoever and just goes from area to area, killing random people by the droves. As you may imagine this doesn’t sit too well with the local police force and they will soon set out confront him in a shoot out. Unfortunately for them, our nameless antagonist has the power to regenerate his wounds by brutality finishing off any wounded people. How much he regenerates is based on what difficulty level you chose. Regardless of that strange power, our player character is not an all mighty death dealer and is actually pretty fragile. A couple of shots is all it takes to kill you, so it is best to fight crouched and with suitable cover, especially when some of the tougher enemies show up. Don’t rely on it too long though, cover is destructible and will soon be a pile of rubble from all the bullet holes.
To fight back you will be able to carry up to three weapons and some grenades, however the flash-bang grenades are near useless. Your ammo supply will be very limited and the only way to get more is to resupply from the weapons of the recently deceased. Whole levels may be lacking a certain type of ammo for one of your weapons, in which case it is best to swap it out for one that is easily found throughout the level. Unfortunately, you will see most of the weapons this game has to offer in no time and they are all pretty generic. There is one shotgun, one handgun, one assault rifle, along with a few other weapons. Since this game is purely about killing, it does get old very quickly. There is no melee whatsoever minus an epic flying kick, to down people for an easy execution. The knife our character is carrying is pure show and only appears during the cut-scene animations of a execution. Bullet proof armor is also in this game and will double the amount of damage you take if you are lucky enough to find one.
The previously mentioned executions are the main source of controversy in this title, as they show a close up, brutal execution of a pleading victim. Funnily enough they are not even that violent compared to other games and due to the few execution animations there are, will quickly lose their shock value. Remember how I mentioned that this is the only way to regain health? Yeah, I have no idea how the devs thought this would be a good idea since you will be seeing these over and over again, causing a ton of breaks in the action just to see the same execution pulled off time and time again. To make matters worse, time doesn’t freeze when you enter an execution cut-scene, so as soon as you finish killing the victim to regain health, you will find yourself surrounded by heavily armed enemies then will be quickly gunned down. You do have an option to turn off execution cutscenes, which you will want to do as quickly as possible, but that kind of destroys the main gimmick of Hatred.
About 2 of the 7 levels are throw away romps, through linear uninspired environments like a sewer or a train. The rest feature a small, open world environment to cause havoc in, as well as multiple side quests. These side quests always need you to kill someone or destroy something, which we probably would have done anyways, but you will definitely want to head straight for them as completing one will net you a token that allows you to respawn if you were to die. You will also be able to drive around these environments with a very specific vehicle, which is usually a police car. Unless that vehicle has a mounted machine gun it is completely pointless to get into one of these, since the controls for driving are abysmal and they take very little damage before exploding. Your character takes his sweet time to get out of a burning vehicle as well, so walking is nearly always the safer option. In case you are wondering, no you can not shoot out of your car window, you will be completely defenseless. There are no maps of the areas and some are strangely laid out, so cars are purely a gimmick. One thing I would like to mention is that our character has no qualms with killing random people, but he will not steal a parked car for whatever reason.
Environments look great. Hatred is powered by Unreal Engine 4 and it is the best looking twin stick shooter on the market. From the amount of detail in areas to the limited destructibility of everything via gunfire or explosives, it is a truly impressive. It’s a very demanding game however, my frame-rate dipped to the 30’s on a fairly high end PC. Ironically enough the very same attention to detail placed in the environments severely harm the game. There are just too many objects that impede your movement and will stop you dead in your tracks in vital moments. Your character can vault over some objects while sprinting, but it is a clunky, unreliable system that feels barely functional. A lot of buildings are designed in a way that makes it have plenty of dead ends , causing you to backtrack, which will be your doom if your objective was to flee from your pursuers. You can jump out of windows with the sprint key, but good luck getting that to work correctly. Some areas have multiple vertical layers which absolutely breaks the AI until they are on the same plane as you. They can not shoot up and you can not shoot down, so it comes down to waiting for them to figure out their way to you so you can kill them.
Plenty of missions require you to kill a certain amount of innocents and that gets old fast. The number required just gets too high and becomes extremely repetitive, not to mention counter productive, as slaying all the civilians will get rid of all your easy targets for a health refill. It’s not fun either, they are all bullet spongy and it’s total waste of ammo. They can take several assault rifle rounds before they go down and with actual trained combatants it feels like we are fighting cyborgs or something. Civilians are not defenseless however, they will frequently pick up weapons and fire at you. Problem with that is they are equally as skilled with that weapon as a trained soldier, only difference being the amount of damage they can take. It really breaks the illusion of them being victims when they all know how to operate a machine gun and are fearlessly fighting along side soldiers, to the death. That could have been cool, seeing a few people go all John Rambo on you, though seeing them endlessly pull more ammo out of there pocket and refusing to flee no matter what, time and time again is just plain weird. Enemy AI also have the ability to see you through solid walls and will no your position at all times. Cops just appear out of thin air instead of closing in on you and everything just feels badly designed.
Survival mode is what saves this game. It throws away Hatred’s inconsistent sense of realism and places you in unique small maps specifically designed to fight in. The environments in these allow for much more fluid movement than the cluttered messy environments in story mode. You will be able to pick from three different characters that appear after the aftermath of the end of story mode and all have different stats. Instead of the boring ambient music of story mode, you will have the option of playing an awesome heavy metal track in these maps. After each wave you will be able to buy explosives, ammo or body armor with the points you gain from killing as well as gaining experience to increase in rank. The higher your rank, the more perks, weapons and weapon slots you can access. This mode is a decent amount of fun and shows you the difference of designing a game around the gameplay, over how much edge you can cram into a series of dull, pointless objectives like in story mode. Both still suffer from the weird isometric view that will occasionally get you shot by someone outside your vision however. A top down perspective would have been far superior to the isometric view we have. Overall this is a weird one to recommend. If the subject matter does not bother you, this is a mediocre twin stick shooter that will kill a few hours.