by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
A trip through the countryside
You're on an island. An island that bears an eerie resemblance to the English countryside, if the English countryside had been abandoned during a robot uprising which left you the only living human on the island. In fact, that's pretty much exactly what happened. The archipelago on which you find yourself consists of five islands, the make-up of which you can customise during the world creation process before you launch the game. Don't get me wrong, you won't have to create the islands themselves, just select from a list of themes for each island, after which they are randomly generated. That, plus your selection of starting gear, will influence your experience with the game quite heavily. That is, your initial experience.
Having chosen a starting kit that starts the game quite heavily armed I thought I'd be a formidable force against the evil, yet cultured, robotic hunters. For as long as my ammo lasted, which wasn't long due to my play style, I was a force to be reckoned with. After that, however, I may as well have been running around stark naked.
You begin the game standing next to some strange looking stones that stick up out of the ground. A mystic glow emanates from them. You are then told that you have to locate and recover fifteen mysterious pieces of machinery and bring them back to that location. You have no map and the only way to find the pieces is to roam around the islands hoping to see the smoke rising from them, or the same mystic glow that emanates from the stones. If you're good at scavenging the empty houses on the islands, you might find a strange scanner which you can use to help locate the pieces, and a map on which you can add waypoints. This comes in handy when you have only one left on an island and have no idea where the last one could be.
The only way to get from one island to the next is by boat, and you'll only be able to save the game through the menu that appears when either interacting with the aforementioned stones or the boats. This means that you may very well have collected all the fragments on an island, but if you haven't saved in between them and are killed on the way back to the boat, you'll have to do the whole thing over again. This adds a sense of gravity to each encounter with the posh robots, as saving before attacking is not possible. Dying thus becomes much more of a bother than in games that allow on-the-fly quick saving.
Hunger and Health
As you wander the countryside looking for these mysterious fragments, you will get hungry. In addition to the visibility meter which tells you how easily the robots can spot you, and your health, you have a vitality meter. This you top up by eating something and it slowly empties again over time. This forces you to scavenge empty houses not only for ammo, weapons, traps, and equipment, but for food as well. You'll soon find your inventory full of snacks, guns, and equipment, but you'll also have to make sure to have enough space to grab what you're looking for if you happen upon a fragment out of the blue. On quite a few occasions I distracted the robots, ran up to the fragment to pick it up, only to find that I didn't have space for it. The thirty seconds it took for me to decide what to throw out of my inventory was ample time for the robots to walk up to me, place the barrels of their shotguns firmly against my temple, and pull the trigger.
If you do get shot, you'll probably start bleeding. This makes it important to always carry some bandages with you as your health will keep ticking down until you apply them. When you have bandaged yourself up, your health will slowly regenerate, provided your vitality is high enough. Having at least one bandage and some piece of food is therefore advisable if you're planning on taking the robots head on.
Aesthetically speaking, the game works. It's not a feat of graphical engineering genius, but the overall style of the visuals makes the lack of finesse easy to ignore. The sound design also works wonders, especially the various beeps and bloops the robots make when they're close by. The game manages to create a truly immersive experience which was better than I dared hope. There is, however, one thing that kind of annoyed me about it.
When the game started, most of the fragments and towns were guarded by two, maybe three robots. This made it easy to draw them into traps or lead them into an ambush. As the game progresses, however, an ever increasing number of robots randomly roam the countryside and bigger, more powerful enemies appear. The enemy variety is a very nice feature of the game and each enemy type fits perfectly into the silly but serious mood of the game. The problem is, however, that when there are so many of them that you will always draw the attention of another group by disposing of a single member of the first one, you'll quickly have to limit your tactics to 'snatch and run' methods. That, to me, was not half as fun as carefully planning the demise of my mechanical foes.
Sir, You Are Being Hunted is stock-full of superb dark humour that ties the game firmly to the country of its origin. There's a reason the particular brand of comedy to which this game belongs is commonly referred to as “British Humour” throughout the rest of Europe. Despite its rather unbalanced progression and low budget graphics detail, this game gets a thorough recommendation. Its immersive character and intense blend of thrill, excitement, and fear are experiences I won't soon forget.
Intense thrill, superb sense of humour, intriguing setting.
Unbalanced progression, dated visuals.