There are few ideas harder to get right than H.P. Lovecraft’s creations. While many books, games and films have tried to emulate his successes, the failures easily outnumber the successes. So much so that many games often limit his influence to a visual style or internal lore over core mechanics. This is definitely the case with Eldritch Hunter, as the horrors are very killable and can be dispatched in the hundreds. You play as a lone Inquisitor trapped in a city overrun by cultists and it’s now your job to rescue the Pope via an explosive arsenal of arrows.
The game’s biggest strength is how it gets a great deal of mileage out of relatively few innate options. While there are only a small handful of level types and perhaps ten enemies in total, their introduction is well implemented and you never feel as if the game is running out of ideas before the credits roll. Even when you start to think that you know everything about a certain foe, a level will rework itself in their favour forcing you to take them seriously once more.
The visual aesthetic of the title perfectly befits the mixture of humour and horror found in the game, and brilliantly reflects the level of creativity which went into the weapons, bosses and character builds. The overgrown gribbly bosses are definitely this game’s big highlight, with each shifting through a variety of moves over and over again, forcing you to re-evaluate your tried and true tactics. Plus, it helps that even once you get tired of arrows, there are some fun guns and swords to fall back on.
However, what is likely to put off projectile dodging fanatics of this genre is the sheer ease of the game. Many level designs are relatively simple for their short bursts, and Eldritch Hunter only shines in the longer level sprawling segments and boss battles. Beyond this the game can often be astoundingly bland for something featuring cosmic horrors, and astoundingly slow. Even if you lack the superhuman reflexes to blitz through most platforming shooters, you’ll notice many enemy responses and your own attacks are surprisingly lethargic. At times it can be borderline impossible to lose a game unless you’re intentionally throwing yourself into the many fanged maws of your foes.
Overall, Eldritch Hunter is competent and enjoyable while it lasts, but it lacks the innate pazazz to hold your attention. For its price it is a hidden gem of a game, and you’re bound to get a few hours of fun out of this one, but don’t expect to get more than one play through out of it.
ELDRITCH HUNTER / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: JOSHUA MISSILE / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW