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theHunter: Primal
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Author:  mleise [ Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:06 am ]
Post subject:  theHunter: Primal

When all zombies go extinct, its time for ... a few dinosaur survival games before the next wave of disfigured, humanoid brain eaters. This time it is a side project from the creators of theHunter, that blends creepy atmosphere, gorgeous landscape and old dinosaur games together.

The back story reminds of Carnivores. In some distant future you get dropped off on an island inhabited by prehistorical creatures, that you hunt with bows or contemporary fire arms. Just this time it is not a hunting ground for the rich and brave, but a penal colony. You and others have been sentenced to clear the island from the dinosaurs in order for a big company to be able to build up a resort there. Story hints linked with certain locations can be found on abandoned PDAs across the island.

After you leave your landing pod, the only thing reminding you of the futuristic setting are the big bright moon that illuminates the night, a large planetary body visible in the sky, supply boxes with beacons and health sprays. The rest of the game feels like a mix of good and tried game play elements and hints at previous dinosaur games. There concrete walls (a foundation maybe), a radio tower on top of a volcano, a hunting rifle, raptors, t-rex and peaceful triceratops. Some of the scenery might remind one of the JP movies and site B now and then. The developers likely reused their in-house rendering engine from "Just Cause" for it.

On YouTube you can see some videos of an early access beta. It shows that the game is quite surprising. You start out in the night with a PDA, no camouflage and only an improvised bow as a weapon. The first dinosaur you meet is a t-rex, that you have to sneak past to get to the first supplies and memory cards for your PDA that hint you at other landmarks. You are free to explore the whole island as you like or use these landmarks on your map to guide you. The general animal AI left to desire, but might improve over time. Most of the time, when you move out of the way, an attacking dinosaur will run to your last position, wait a second and then turn towards you for another attack run. Triceratops usually just flee when they get wounded and t-rex hardly ever spot you when you lie next to them in the grass. The raptors however are inspired much by JP1. They usually roam the dense forests in packs and seem to appear more often once you are in possession of effective firearms. What they AI is currently lacking, the team made up for by instilling the image of an intelligent animal that hunts as a team and makes you the prey. Unlike the stomping of a t-rex that makes you notice it long before it comes into sight, the raptors only hiss now and then and are barely noticable. Once one of them gets your scent, it informs the rest of its group with a specific sound. The others answer the call with different sounds so that all raptors know their relative positions while taking advantageous spots around their prey for an ambush. The thing is, you can't see the AI bump into trees or anything stupid. All you see is the dense green around you and you hear their growls coming closer until they seem to come from all around you.

As usual with hunting games these days you get to read animal tracks and your PDA takes notes as you go. Depending on what you find or hear it will mark the rough position of the tracked animal on the map. A sound gives a very exact location, while a foot print only gives you a general direction for example. Needless to say finding four different raptor tracks at once easily gives you an uneasy feeling. :)

As mentioned before boxes with beacons give you resupplies in health, ammo, camouflage clothing or weapons. They show up on your PDA when you get within a certain radius of them. But there are also mushrooms, some of which are edible and regenerate health. Other than that it is a survival shooter in the ego perspective mixed with hunting and an inventory that is limited by weight.

The news is 3 months old, but I thought I'd mention it anyway in case someone likes games in the ilk of Carnivores.

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