I’d like to propose that we extend the modern game journalism cliche of “the Dark Souls of ___” to stuff in real life. Waiting at the DMV? That’s the Dark Souls of Bureaucracy. Stepped on a Lego? The Dark Souls of Parenting. Anything can fit if you try hard enough, we can say that for certain after seeing how many times the aforementioned cliche has been popping up lately (thanks, Elden Ring).
Even better, it’s a comparison that still applies to games! Fancy that. Hunt the Night, for instance, may be the Dark Souls of top-down Zelda-ish games.
It’s not a great time to live in Medhram. It’s a spooky place these days, packed to the brim with all manner of nasty monsters. When night falls around here, let’s just say you don’t want to go out to get your club on. With humanity on the decline, it’s up to Stalkers like Vesper to push back. This organization, consisting of human assassins clad in raven-themed garb wielding powerful weapons, aims to take the fight to the Night.
Hunt the Night resembles nothing more than FromSoftware’s classic horror adventure Bloodborne, a comparison the game seems happy to embrace. Your character wields a melee weapon and gun in tandem, dashes about to avoid attacks, has a limited healing resource that must be carefully rationed, saves at what amounts to Souls-style bonfire checkpoints…it’s close enough that there’s no question about where the game’s inspiration derived from.
So yeah, what we’ve got here is Zelda Bloodborne. Vesper’s got a melee weapon that can be chosen from several variations as well as a ranged weapon that’s reloaded as you land melee strikes. Weaving in and out of melee, landing hits to restore your ammo before unleashing it on your foes is the name of the game. Hunt the Night’s rhythm might take a little bit of time to get used to, but once things click, they really click. In particular, boss fights are almost always a treat from both a gameplay and graphical perspective.
As you progress, you’re able to collect new weapons, upgrades and special Dark Powers that allow further customization. Hunt the Night isn’t quite as deep when talking about character customization, but you’re still able to tweak Vesper’s loadout so that she’s nudged a tiny bit toward your preferred playstyle. Switching up your gear to suit your foes is also a winning tactic and it’s definitely worth trying out new stuff as you find it.
From a presentation standpoint, it’s surprising how well Hunt the Night manages to capture the Bloodborne feel using pixel art. This particular aesthetic has been done to death over the years, but we’ve got a great example of it here. Bosses and enemy design in general merit a particular mention, since they’re animated well and look fantastic. Add some of the requisite grimdark lore on top of all that and you’ve got a winner.
While it probably won’t reach the legendary status of Bloodborne, Hunt the Night is a perfectly serviceable hanger-on sort of game that just might slake players’ bloodthirst. It’s a snappy and responsive top-down experience that really pushes Souls players in a fashion they’re bound to find familiar. Newer players and those not enamored with FromSoftware’s classics, however, may want to tread carefully and perhaps look elsewhere for their Zelda fix.