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Video Game / Hunter: The Reckoning

Hunter: The Reckoning spawned three beat-'em-up video games for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo GameCube, which were published by Interplay and Vivendi and developed by High Voltage Software. All three are multi-player hack-and-slashers in the spirit of the original Gauntlet, and developed a modest fan following as excellent four-player party games.

The original game, Hunter: The Reckoning, is set in the small town of Ashcroft, which was built around a penitentiary of the same name. For more than fifty years, the prison was run by a vampire named Cornelius as his own private playground and feeding pen. Cornelius's necromancy barely managed to bottle up the angry ghosts that haunted the prison grounds.

One day, the convicted murderer Nathaniel Arkady is executed at Ashcroft Penitentiary, and all hell breaks loose. The vengeful dead rise up all at once and attack everyone inside the prison. Four ordinary people are abruptly Imbued, given powers by an unknown agent to defend humanity against the supernatural. These four - the Avenger, Spencer "Deuce" Wyatt, a biker whose mother was killed by Arkady; the Defender, Samantha Alexander, one of the cops who arrested Arkady; the Martyr, Kassandra Cheyung, a teenage raver and heir to a manufacturing fortune; and the Judge, Father Estaban Cortez, the priest who gave Arkady his last rites - are able to work together long enough to escape the prison and seal the ghosts up inside it.

A short time thereafter, the prison is the site of an illegal rave, which draws in kids from all over the state, and that's enough to unleash the angry ghosts against the entirety of the town of Ashcroft. The four hunters return to Ashcroft to find it burning to the ground, and must rescue the surviving civilians while finishing off the ghosts of Ashcroft once and for all.

Two years later, in Wayward, Ashcroft is mostly empty, although people are slowly returning to it. It's still a focus of dark power, though, and two Wayward Hunters go missing within the city limits. The original four hunters, after seeing the calls for help on Hunter.net, reunite and return to Ashcroft.

The final game in the series, Redeemer, is set ten years after the original game. Kaylie Winter, who was orphaned by the monsters in the original outbreak, has grown up under Estaban's care and become a hunter herself. She calls her adopted father and his allies back to Ashcroft, which has been revitalized by the presence of the corporation Genefex. Unfortunately for Genefex, it's unaware of Ashcroft's history, and it's being manipulated by unseen forces.

Interesting trivia for webcomic fans: the lead designer on the original Hunter, David Rodriguez, is the writer of Shadowgirls, as well as the independent comic Starkweather.

Tropes in the Hunter video games include:

  • Action Girl: Sam, Kass, and eventually Kaylie.
  • Adaptation Distillation: A lot of the Hunter tropes get worked fairly naturally into the game, like Hunter.net being used as a source of notes for the tutorial.
  • An Axe to Grind: Deuce's weapon of choice.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: One of the first game's early bosses is against Kaylie's possessed teddy bear, which grows to gigantic size.
  • Badass: Pretty much everyone.
  • Bag of Spilling: The main characters survive for ten years' worth of adventures, but are still at level 1 with level 1 Edges at the start of each game.
  • Bald of Awesome: Joshua
  • Bandaged Face: Carpenter
  • Bare Your Midriff: Kass's outfits in the original and in Wayward.
  • BFS: Esteban's Cruciform Sword and Kaylie's Buster Sword both qualify.
  • Blade Reflection: The cover for Redeemer uses this.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Esteban
  • Cast from Hit Points: Demand costs the user both Health and Conviction, in exchange for a temporary boost to running and firing speed.
  • Chainsaw Good
  • Cool Guns: Kass's dual pistols are distinctly Desert Eagles, and Deuce is using an old lever-action rifle.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Joshua, the surviving Wayward.
  • Dummied Out: The mission which explains the Waywards' situation was only available to play on demo discs.
  • Escort Mission: In the first game, The Hunters are tasked with escorting Kaylie through the cemetery to the church.
  • Expy:
    • Each of the four original Hunters has roughly equivalent areas of specialization to the original four characters from Gauntlet. Deuce is the Warrior (high health, moves slowly, entirely focused on melee), Sam is the Valkyrie (well-balanced character with defensive abilities, making her the hardest to kill), Kass is the Elf (the fastest character, specializing in ranged combat), and Estaban is the Wizard (he's built around using his Edges, to the point where a high-level Judge player won't really use his weapons that much).
    • Genefex, the evil corporation in Redeemer, will be instantly familiar to any fan of Werewolf: The Apocalypse. It is never explicitly said to be a Pentex subsidiary, but it almost doesn't have to.
      • One of the Genefx advert boards in the background of the earlier levels does mention it being connected to some of the subsidiaries mentioned in the Pentex source book. A bit of an obscure Shout-Out but it is there.
  • Fedora of Asskicking: Esteban wears one sometimes.
  • Four Token Band
  • Girlish Pigtails: Kass in the second game.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Kassandra usually wears a pair of purely decorative goggles on her forehead.
  • Guns Akimbo: Kassandra's primary means of attack. Carpenter also displays a penchant for dual-wielding Uzis.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Sam Alexander has a katana and a revolver.
  • Mind-Control Device: Kaylie has the unique Edge, Shame, which forces ordinary enemies to turn against each other.
  • Nintendo Hard: The original Hunter is explicitly balanced for four players and becomes extremely difficult with fewer than that. Wayward only allows two-player co-op, and is relatively easy right up until the final boss, who will kick your face in. Finally, Redeemer is a bit better-balanced than the previous two games and can be played solo relatively easily, although it's still a really good idea to use either Kaylie or Sam.
  • Noble Demon: Carpenter.
  • Noodle Incident: The story of how the original four characters became imbued in the first place actually sounds a lot more interesting than the plot of the first game.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Carpenter delivers one to the Hunters when they first meet.
    Carpenter: Typical. I try to help and this is the thanks I get. Do you think I can't see you shaking at the other end of that barrel? Do you think I don't know your brain is trying to process the horrible fact that "Oh my god it talks!" and if it talks, it thinks, and you can't stand that, can you? When are you going to learn that you're not Hunters; you're sheep...with shotguns.
  • Scary Black Man: Joshua the Wayward.
  • Sealed Evil in a Teddy Bear: The giant possessed teddy bear boss.
  • Stripperiffic: In the original game, Kass is dressed like she's on her way to a candy rave and Sam has mislaid an entire leg of her leather pants. Both get distinctly more sensible as they get older, and are more covered up by the time of Redeemer... just in time for a teenage Kaylie to begin a career of fighting off monsters while wearing an extremely low-cut leather minidress.
  • Squishy Wizard: If either Kass or Estaban winds up in an extended fight at melee range, they're probably dead. If they can keep their distance, though, Estaban has the best direct-damage Edges and Kass can whittle just about anything down with constant gunfire.
  • Those Who Fight Monsters: The Waywards in the game of the same name. One can be saved. The other... can't.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: The final boss is a Lasombra Vampire. The Lasombra are a clan who specialize in turning darkness and shadows into physically controlled weapons and tendrils, and as a balance are particularly sensitive to bright light and sunlight. The Boss is in the top floor of its hideout, a boarded up abandoned building that, three levels earlier, you entered during the day. The quick and easy way to defeat the vampire? Don't aim at him, instead aim at the boarded up windows behind him. Shatter the boards, the sun streams in, and he's toast.
  • Wretched Hive: Ashcroft gets wrecked by four separate massive supernatural disasters over the course of the games' storyline. The fact that Genefex is willing to do anything in Ashcroft other than burn it down and salt the earth probably counts as some kind of early clue that they're up to something.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Or purple hair. Or pink hair. Kass seems to change her hair color with each game and each unlockable costume.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Kass and Kaylie often sport this look.