I’d like you to imagine a restaurant. It’s a lovely place: there’s fancy dress, wine service…we’ll say it serves French cuisine. Now imagine that customers come in. They’re served their food, but what’s this? They don’t seem to care about what’s on their plates! Instead, they’re all about what’s going on in the kitchen – which chef made which dish, who’s having a steamy affair with whom, how much it cost to purchase the toques and so on. While everyone’s waiting for some juicy gossip, the food – which tastes the same regardless of any kitchen drama – sits on plates growing cold, since this restaurant isn’t about food any longer. I’ll leave the meaning of this metaphor to you. Let’s talk about Hatred.
Hatred is a twin-stick isometric shooter that pays obvious homage to the first Postal title. You play as The Antagonist, the most angry dude alive, as he grabs some weaponry and goes on a murderous rampage. He looks pretty cool in a Rob Liefeld kind of way. Huge ripped dude, long black hair, open trenchcoat. He even leaves a faint dark trail as he charges around the monochrome environment. 13-year-old me would have loved this.
The Antagonist earns his name by going on a crazy shooting spree. Civilian, cop and soldier alike are all going to have a very bad day once you show up. If you’ve ever seen a Z-rated slasher film, imagine you’re playing as the bad guy and you’ve got the idea – even the mission objectives include such wholesome activities as blowing up a supermarket or taking out hunters in the woods. Successfully accomplishing a mission objective usually yields an extra life or “respawn point,” meaning that when you die, you can respawn there a limited number of times.
And die you certainly will – Hatred sells itself as a game about a psycho going on a killing spree, but it usually plays out as a psycho being put down with minimal effort by our brave law enforcement heroes. The Antagonist certainly looks like a Hot Topic poster boy badass, but he’s not made of Kevlar and must regenerate by executing fallen targets. Of course. You can actually find Kevlar, speaking of which, as well as a variety of firearms, several flavors of explosive and even a flamethrower. Ammo’s generally in short supply, so Hatred encourages a much more cautious playstyle than you might expect. You’ll certainly want to grab fallen weapons regardless of if you’re hurting for ammo or not, as anyone who hasn’t been mowed down is liable to grab them up and put them to use against you.
The presentation is pretty much exactly what you’d expect…well, maybe a little less, actually. In terms of sheer graphic carnage, Hatred is almost tame compared to recent releases like Mortal Kombat X and even the (older and strikingly similar-looking) Wii slaughterfest MadWorld. There’s the unexpected twist here and there to amp up the edginess and earn that rating, like civilians begging for their life and the Antagonist muttering naughty words, but this isn’t the next leap up in videogame debauchery it was played up to be. It’s technically competent and the controls work well, though putting executions and weapon switching on the same button when you’re using a gamepad is an annoyance. Oh, and the monochrome graphics look pretty cool, as does the splash of color from gore, an explosion or a neon sign.
So with that in mind, what we’ve got is a pretty competent twin-stick shooter that encourages a slow, methodical playstyle. For $20 you’re getting around 4 hours for a single playthrough on Hard mode, which isn’t fantastic but there are worse values on the market. Shooter fans and people who aren’t going to get upset about the content are probably going to enjoy Hatred – and chances are they knew about it already and procured a copy. Everyone else isn’t going to be convinced. They should probably move on. It’s 2015 and there are plenty of options. May I suggest some Hyperdimension Neptunia instead?