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Video Game / Hunter: The Reckoning

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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, 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:

  • 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.
  • 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: Chainsaws can be found as limited-use weapons that can make short work of enemies, but burn through their fuel supply fairly quickly.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Joshua, the surviving Wayward wields a large crowbar as his melee weapon.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nothing Personal: Carpenter, in Redeemer says this to the Hunters before he fights them. Essentially he was given an An Offer You Can't Refuse, the terms of which currently involve him having to kill them. He's not overly sad about it, but he also doesn't want to do it.
    Carpenter: So I guess you've noticed that your little dance with the witch and her Shadowlands pet five years ago had some repercussions. Don't worry though, Lucien and Genefex were quick to move in and rebuild. That's what we do in Ashcroft, you know, cover up our sins and hide them with pretty lights, make like they never happened. But you and I know the truth. So here's the story little Hunters; in order for me to fully come back from the Shadowlands, I had to make a deal. You don't have to worry about the details, but it basically comes down to me having to kill you. Now you know I don't like you, but I like to think we've got this mutual grudging respect thing going on. So please, don't take this ass beating I am about to lay down on you personally.
  • "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.
    • He gives another to the Final Boss of Wayward in regards to how it handled the current situation in Ashcroft. Suffice it to say, he was not impressed. He also informs the creature that once the Hunters are done with it, when it's sent back to the Underworld Carpenter is going to kick its ass for messing with his town.
    Carpenter: *Sarcastic Clapping* "See, this town doesn't belong to you. It belongs to me.... You think so, eh? I've been working this town for a long time now, and it's not that easy to roll. The cult was a good idea, but the execution was sloppy. The same goes for the fleabag. And the rogue hunter thing? That was inspired, but again, sloppily executed. I think your problem is a lack of foresight."
  • 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.
    • And then there's Lucien, who is a Fallen Hunter, who sold his soul to... something... in exchange for power. It ends up turning him into a demon, and you have to cut him down as he's the Final Boss of Redeemer.
  • 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.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lucien in Redeemer is doing all this because he wants the werewolves around Ashcroft destroyed, and in his corrupted state can't see his own misdeeds. Esteban personally cuts him down just after Lucien's Motive Rant.
  • 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.