It’s not enough for Huntdown to be a fun-as-heck 2D shoot-‘em-up. No, the title, developed by Easy Trigger Games, taps deep into ‘80s nostalgia — so much so that at times it feels like an arcade game, and other times it’s like a straight-up action flick. Thematically, it’s hokey and cheesy in all the right ways. Gameplay-wise, it’s absolutely brilliant and separates itself from other shmups by focusing on smart, deliberate gameplay.

Huntdown is set in a dystopian retro-futuristic urban world. In a setup that feels a little bit like 1979 cult classic film The Warriors but with more of a cyberpunk aesthetic, gangs have taken over the streets, and it’s up to you to eliminate them one-by-one. As a vigilante-for-hire, you’ll have to clean up the filth across multiple hoods and go straight for each gang’s boss. The game has a hardboiled, gritty edge to it, and the dialogue works incredibly well in driving the game’s ‘80s movie vibe.

Huntdown - Bad Boy Bob

At one point, one of the game’s bosses greets you in his flying car and says, “I got da wheels. I make da deals.” And believe me, it’s as incredible as it sounds. And this is just one line of dialogue. Huntdown is filled with crazy cool quips from its antagonists.

Though Huntdown has that “set in the future” thing going for it, the whole thing looks like it was ripped right out of the ‘80s. There are colorful mohawks, lots of denim, and lovely mullets. It’s all presented in rich, detailed pixel art, too.

Based on its visuals and tone alone, I’d go so far as to call Huntdown one of the coolest-looking games around. But it goes beyond that, because Huntdown plays really well, too. This game would totally work as a fast-paced 2D shoot-‘em-up, but Easy Trigger Games decided to go in a slightly different direction. Sure, there are moments when you can run-and-gun your way through hostile gangs, but more often than not, you’ll have to play a bit more carefully.

Huntdown Gangs

While it’s not necessarily a traditional cover-based shooter, employing cover around you is key to succeeding a lot of the time in Huntdown. Enemies attack in large numbers. They also use cover themselves. Not to mention, they can have surprisingly deadly, out-of-nowhere attacks (like explosive rounds or straight-up charging at you on a motorcycle). This is the type of thing you don’t typically see in a 2D shoot-‘em-up, but it works amazingly well here thanks to the structure and design of each stage.

Even on the default difficulty setting, Huntdown is a pretty challenging game. Enemies are tough, and bosses are pretty powerful. Aside from the aforementioned dude in the flying car, there’s also a Macho Man-esque pro wrestler (who you do battle with inside of a steel cage wrestling ring), a samurai, and even an overgrown hockey player. It’s rad as heck!

Huntdown - Nadja Drago

If you’re up for it, Huntdown gives you three optional challenges to complete per level. You’ll have to defeat a certain number of enemies, which is the easiest challenge to complete and you’ll almost always do. Beating a level without dying once is a little tougher, but still doable if you’re tenacious. And then there’s finding every secret stash — sometimes these are tucked away behind walls or doors, and other times you might have to chase down an enemy before he escapes with it. While all of this isn’t required, it adds a nice layer of replayability to each level.

Aside from the multiple difficulty settings and optional challenges, Huntdown also features three different playable characters, and they’re all fun to use. There’s a robot with a nice little handgun. You can also play as a cyborg who wields a strong mag. Or you can take on gangs as a human who’s armed with her trusty burst-fire machine gun.

Huntdown Shoot 'Em Up

You can go it alone, but Huntdown also supports two-player local co-op. Sadly, there’s no online co-op mode, which is a bummer and probably the game’s only major flaw. Even then, it’s still not that big of a deal considering just how good Huntdown is.

From its heavy ‘80s vibe to its action movie tone all the way to its stellar gameplay, Huntdown is a game that’s absolutely worth playing. If you’ve missed it up to this point, you would do well to rectify that and get on this game, because it’s a total blast, and it’s just a really badass shoot-‘em-up that’ll keep you hooked the entire time.

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