The nicest thing I can say about Destructive Creations, the developers of flash-in-the-pan murder simulator Hatred, is that they really know how to market. Admit it: when the trailer came out last October, half of us were pumped. Between the darkly comic premise of playing as a Dylan Klebold-wannabe out to kill people for fun and the joy of knowing that the game was making Jonathan McIntosh’s pussy hurt, Hatred looked like it could be the breakout hit of 2015.
Then the game actually came out.
While not a terrible game, Hatred is a pure a case of all style, no substance as I’ve seen in years. With its slipshod controls, repetitive levels, and lack of in-game saving, Hatred’s saving grace is that it’s only $20; if I had paid full price for this sucker, I’d be screaming for a Steam refund right now. Not only does Hatred fail at being fun, it also falls flat in the controversy department thanks to a thin plot and incredibly bad writing.
The end result is a game that, while not the worst I’ve ever seen, is a massive letdown.
“Only My Weapon Understands Me”
Hatred’s gameplay is simple: you enter a level, kill innocent bystanders, then kill the police when they show up. Imagine Grand Theft Auto if all you could do was go on a rampage (right down to National Guard troops being called in) and you have Hatred in a nutshell. The game is played from an isometric perspective, where you move with the keyboard and aim with the mouse, and you’re given a wide variety of artillery—from AK-47s to rocket launchers to Molotov cocktails—to eradicate the human plague from the face of the Earth.
It’s too bad the controls are absolutely fucked.
Attempting to meld first-person shooter-style controls with a third-person isometric game is needlessly confusing, and the lack of sensitivity when aiming with the mouse doesn’t help. The game’s grainy, black-and-white graphics also help obscure your targeting reticule, making the act of actually shooting at people far more of a pain then it needs to be. Expect a lot of needless deaths due to your character taking too long to aim in the direction you need to shoot in. You can see this in my Let’s Play series on Hatred, which you can view by using the player below:
Speaking of death, get used to reloading, because Hatred doesn’t allow in-game saving. Yes, that’s right: in the year 2015, in an era when in-game saving has become de rigeur for even the console untermenschen, if you die in Hatred, you have to start the level over from the beginning. You can obtain respawn tokens by completing various side objectives (which usually involve killing specific groups of people), but expect to lose them quickly until you learn how to deal with the game’s broken controls.
And those are far from the only problems with Hatred. The game is poorly optimized and runs terribly on even high-end gaming systems, making aiming and shooting even more of a chore. Your character throws like a girl, so whenever you use grenades or Molotov cocktails, you’ll either miss or blow yourself up half the time. The vehicles in the game are so weak that they’re worthless; even the Humvee you use in the last two levels has the strength of wet toilet paper. You can’t aim downward and shoot enemies when you’re on higher ground. The list goes on.
But the biggest problem with Hatred is that it’s boring. Once you’ve mastered the clumsy control scheme and gotten a handle on the levels, you’ll realize the game has no variety. You enter a level, mow down people like they’re bowling pins, and that’s it. The game has a really neat destruction engine—bullets, grenades and bazookas can be used to realistically destroy just about anything on the map—but it doesn’t do anything with it.
About the one major gameplay mechanic I like in Hatred—aside from the ability to destroy houses with a few well-placed Molotovs—is the health bar. Unlike most modern shooters, which are designed for babies, Hatred doesn’t feature an auto-refilling health meter. Instead, you have to execute wounded victims to keep your health up. It’s a small thing, but it’s a welcome change from the obnoxious hand-holding most games force on you.
Mommas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Listen To Evanescence
Hatred even manages to fail at the one thing it’s been banking on: shocking the normals. “But you’re playing as a misanthropic spree killer and you can curbstomp black people and everything! How can it NOT be disturbing?”
Answer: because there’s no plot. What we saw in the trailer back in October—the Trenchcoat Mafioso main character grabbing his guns to go out and kill—is literally the entire setup for the game. There’s no character development, no backstory, nothing to tell us about why this Marilyn Manson-listening emo crybaby is trying to beat Anders Behring Breivik’s high score. At least the main character in Postal had a motivation: he was pissed off at being evicted and went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Not only that, Hatred’s level of violence is so over the top that it works against any atmosphere the game tries to develop. At the end of the first mission alone, you’ll have mowed down hundreds of innocent bystanders, curbstomped peoples’ skulls into mush with your bare boots, and sent cops flying halfway across the screen with shotgun blasts from 20 feet away. If the game even attempted to be realistic, it might be possible to find all the carnage a little disturbing, but you might as well be watching a cartoon, given how fake everything looks.
The best way to describe Hatred’s failure to be shocking is to compare it to the 2002 French film Irreversible, infamous for featuring a 10 minute-long anal rape scene with Monica Bellucci. Despite the graphic intensity of the scene, I didn’t find it moving at all: because all the film’s character development happens after we see Bellucci’s character raped, we’re not given any reason to be emotionally invested in her plight.
Overall, Hatred is a case study in how good marketing can salvage a mediocre game from the annals of obscurity. While not horrible, its combo of wonky controls, cheap deaths, and cringeworthy dialogue make it unworthy of the attention it’s received. If you’re really curious about Hatred, wait for it to go on sale: don’t blow twenty bucks on it.