Hatred Review: Isometric Ultra-Violence
Hatred is a game that wasn't made for 99% of the gaming community, and to be perfectly honest, it wasn't really made for anyone in general. It's a twisted, mean-spirited game that revels in violence and gore. However, that's not to say that it shouldn't exist. It's violence for violence's sake, and not in an endearing way either. While I don't think it exists just to fuel controversy as so many other reviews I've read claim, it personifies the mindless violent nature of some popular video game franchises.
The game follows a nameless antagonist as he murders, maims, and mutilates across a number of stages (I only made it to stage two before I had to turn it off). You gain health only by executing civilians or cops, often stabbing them, shooting them point blank, or stomping them to death. The game is brutal in its portrayal of violence, with characters flailing around when shot, and begging for their lives before being executed. It's sickening but at the same time, the only thing that really separates it from the Call of Duty franchise or any other triple-A title is who you are killing. Even in Battlefield: Hardline, you can play as bank robbers killing police officers in the streets of Miami. While yes, those games have slightly tact whereas Hatred has the main character spouting off derogatory lines like "humans are maggots on the corpse of the Earth", it is still base level pixelated murder.
The actual game-play is decent, drawing on games such as Alien Swarm or Smash TV for influence. The game is presented in an isometric display, with your character able to shoot in a full 360-degree range. He can dodge and run, yet there is surprisingly no melee ability, which seems like a massive oversight on the part of the developers. He can also carry three weapons at a time, along with an assortment of the usual explosive devices such as molotovs, grenades, and flashbangs. The art style of the game was the most interesting and biggest selling point for me as it is all black and white except for certain elements in color to highlight their importance. Those colors being the red of the blood along with the fire for the explosions and the lights on the police cruisers. The stylistic choice to go with a monochromatic color scheme for most of the game is the best thing about the game as it helps to further solidify the idea that the main character lives in a world that he sees as drab, and lifeless, therefore allowing him to murder without remorse.
We as a society play video-games for the same reason we watch movies: to escape. We use these forms of interactive art to immerse ourselves in someone else's shoes be it a ancient Orc warlord, a soldier in WWII, or a combatant in a hand-to-hand deathmatch. The uproar that the public at large felt when the first Grand Theft Auto or Postal was released is similar to the uproar that Hatred met. It was initially banned from the Steam Store, then reinstated after the gaming community cried foul that banning it would set a unwelcome precedent. If you, as a singular person, do not like something be it a violent film or explicit music, do not take it upon yourself to censor it for everyone. As the comedian Tommy Smothers once said, "the ultimate censorship is the flick of the dial." If you aren't a fan or something offends you, don't watch/listen to/or play it, but don't tell others what they can or can't do.
In the grand scheme of things, Hatred has already had its five minutes of fame due to the Steam Store controversy. However, the most important thing is that you can buy it if you want, be it out of genuine curiosity or because it ends up going on sale for cheap during a Steam sale. It, like many games, is just another mindless diversion from everyday life, albeit a more violent diversion, but one that honestly isn't any worse or offensive than many of the big titles that are released every year. I won't tell you whether or not to play this game, as at the end of the day it really is so divisive that you probably already made up your mind after the first paragraph.
Final Say: You Decide