How did this one fly under my radar? Week after week and month after month, we get inundated with subpar games, and then, out of the blue, a charmer like this comes along practically out of nowhere and reminds us how fun gaming can be.
Spirit Hunters: Infinite Horde is a chaotic top-down rogue-lite game, that, unlike most titles, is a genre that makes characters not so necessary. This durable form inspires developers to create plots that are baffling in their complexity and bold in their simplicity. And Spirit Hunter achieves both.
The Horde Never Dies
After a brief intro, we learn the early history of a forgotten land, plundered and pillaged by an evil force. But hope is not lost, as you take on the role of either a prophet or sorcerer tasked with defeating the evil that has laid waste upon your homeland.
Much of the game’s success and enticements come from comparisons from other games of similar ilk; most notable being Vampire Survivors. These games are all more or less similar, but Spirit Hunters: Infinite Horde gives us much, much more even if many of its mechanics are the same.
There must be a threat and heroes must be enlisted to stop the said threat. The bosses must be dramatized but not overpowering. Passive and active skills need to be enhanced and probed. And then the gameplay needs to consist of special effects in which large mechanical objects engage in combat that results in deafening crashes, blinding flashes, and fiery explosions.
Visually, Spirit Hunters: Infinite Horde shines brighter than Vampire Survivors with its generous use of bright vibrant colors resembling a large water stroke design. Game characters are random but well thought out, yet simple enough that anyone can draw them; small dots for eyes, a slight curvature for eyebrows, and a straight line with a loop at the end to finish off the mouth. I do enjoy these types of caricatures because making them any more realistic would take away from the personalities and depth each character possesses.
The landscape, as you can see, is vast and players can traverse from one end to the other without the limits of borderless walls. Another unique aspect of the game is the way chests are opened; in Vampire Survivor, for example, you simply walk up to the chest and it opens. Here, you’ll need to stay within the radius of the chest until the area of effect is complete before the chest opens. Step outside and the timer resets back, so strategy plays a big part in whether or not you can or should open a chest, depending on the situation you find yourself in.
Another helpful feature is the placement of supply huts randomly placed on the map to purchase, potions, health, and crystals. Once inside, you’re safe as these huts are considered neutral ground to both prey and predator awaiting outside.
With everything happening on-screen at once, one might think that the game is played at breakneck speed. Not here. The developers have a good feel for slow methodical pacing. Time is given and attention is paid to the construction of each level so that the tension grows from the situation and doesn’t pound the player into frustration.
Of course, you’ll still get overwhelmed, but it’s more incidental than intentional. The bosses, for example, aren’t the rubber-stamp bad guys from other games, but plausible creatures that blend well with the environment and do not just randomly rush in to attack.
Spirit Hunters: Infinite Horde marks the indie debut of developer Creature Cauldron Game Studios, who like many indie developers, are better with elegant game design than with dazzling 3D effects. There aren’t any fancy ray tracing virtuosities here, instead, we have direct and precise designs that focus squarely on the characters, the environment, and the situation which is handled in an unusual way, with the core mechanics never seemingly wasted or depraved, but created organically to be out of control.
There’s an understated irony in games like this because it doesn’t want to overwhelm the player but to keep them on their toes, making each level feel fresh and new. Spirit Hunters: Infinite Horde is built around, not the game per se, but the free-spirited reaction of the players as they move to and from one area to the next, moving in zig-zagging patterns to avoid being smothered to death. When it comes to fun, indie developers always come out with something unique, different, and challenging. So if you’re looking for a game that will test your sanity, give this spirited hunter a try.