Hunt the Night – Review
Follow Genre: Action-adventure, RPG
Developer: Moonlight Games
Publisher: DANGEN Entertainment
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Hunt the Night – Review

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Good: Intricate, fast-paced combat system
Bad: Possible to get stuck on puzzles
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Nearly a year-and-a-half after indie developer Moonlight Games dropped a demo for their debut title Hunt the Night the full version of the game is finally here. Taking inspiration from titles like Bloodborne, Castlevania, and The Legend of Zelda, Hunt the Night might not seem like a wholly original affair at first glance, but it still gives the impression of a solid game. We sharpened our blades, loaded up our crossbow, and put on our hood to find out whether or not this retro-styled adventure is worth your time and money.


Sporting a surprisingly elaborate backstory, Hunt the Night tells the story of Vesper, a so-called Stalker tasked with pushing back the forces of the Night. In the world of Hunt the Night, a centuries-long conflict has been going on between the factions of Night, which comprises all kinds of nightmarish monsters, and Day, which is basically humanity. The Stalkers are the champions of Day, tasked with protecting ordinary citizens. At one point in the past, the Stalkers were actually able to defeat Night and seal its creatures away, although this did come at the cost of having to periodically sacrifice Stalkers in order to keep the seal intact. Unfortunately, the Stalkers were betrayed by one of their own, Blackbone, who broke the seal and allowed Night to run rampant again. Our story begins sometime after this has happened, with the world plunged into darkness and a small handful of Stalkers trying to undo what Blackbone did. It is under these circumstances that we meet our protagonist, Vesper, in earnest. She is tasked with searching the world for the pieces of the seal that will lock Night away again. Along the way, she will also piece together the truth about her mysterious past, and how she is a vessel for the mysterious Umbra, a creature of Night that uses her as a host. Vesper herself is mute and unable to communicate with other Stalkers, but she can “talk” to Umbra, and this helps with fleshing out her character and letting players relate to her.


Pixel art retro visuals have been commonplace in indie titles for decades, to the point that they often feel overdone. For a pixel art game to impress in 2023, it really needs to stand out. Fortunately, Hunt the Night manages to do exactly that. Rather than opt for SNES-style graphics, the game resembles the slightly more elaborate visual style of the Game Boy Advance, allowing for more visual detail while retaining a look that feels suitably retro. At this point, we feel the need to point out that the good old GBA is over twenty years old, so before you scoff and tell us that the venerable handheld isn’t retro, well… you’re simply old yourself, sorry. That said, Hunt the Night doesn’t just nail the GBA aesthetic, it looks great too. The art direction is fantastic, and a special mention should go to the lighting effects, which really tie everything together. The only visual element that breaks the illusion that this is a retro title is the interface, which looks too sleek and clean.


Rather than opt for GBA-esque tunes, Hunt the Night presents players with an orchestrated soundtrack, which highlights the grandiose and grotesque horror atmosphere that the game aims to convey. The music takes center stage here, if only because the audio-scape doesn’t have a lot to offer otherwise. There is no voice acting present and sound effects aren’t remarkable.


While Hunt the Night resembles a retro title due to how it presents itself visually, the game actually feels like a modern title when it comes to its gameplay. What you’re getting here is a surprisingly sophisticated 2D action-adventure RPG, filled with plenty of combat action and challenging boss fights. As you explore the world around you, you’ll also run into environmental puzzles reminiscent of older Legend of Zelda games, whereas dungeon layouts feel like they were taken straight from Castlevania. Hunt the Night doesn’t hide which classic games it was inspired by. In fact, it wears its influences like a badge of honor. Rightfully so, we’d say too, as Hunt the Night gets a lot right, although there are a handful of minor niggles that prevent the game from achieving true greatness. We’ll get to those, but first let’s take a look at where the game shines brightest: in combat.

Vesper starts out with a blade named “The Promise”, which she inherited from her mother, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances 25 years prior. While this weapon is initially weak, its name hints at its true potential, and as you progress through the game, you’ll find that The Promise becomes a more powerful and reliable part of your arsenal. The Promise isn’t the only tool in Vesper’s kit either, as she’ll obtain all sorts of different melee weapons, including daggers, claws, and swords, as well as different guns. This allows players to tackle Hunt the Night according to their own playstyle, as different weapon loadouts provide their own unique blend of speed, power, and range. Supplementing this is your choice of a regenerative magical ability, a stat-boosting item of clothing, or a Moonstone that provides specific buffs. Of course, having all these tools at your disposal is nice and all, but you’ll need them because Hunt the Night veers into Dark Souls territory when it comes to its difficulty level.

Basic enemies are easy enough to take care of, especially since Vesper’s attacks can be chained into combos, but tougher enemies and bosses in particular can be frustrating to deal with. Vesper’s adversaries are deceptively fast and there is little tolerance for mistakes. Vesper herself is fragile, and it’s essential to master dashing in order to avoid enemy attacks rather than being able to tank damage. With tight corridors, and a multitude of enemies attacking our protagonist at once, this leads to a situation where Hunt the Night occasionally feels like a bullet hell game rather than an action-adventure RPG. Boss fights require plenty of trial and error too as you need to learn their attack patterns and employ hit-and-run tactics to be successful. Hunt the Night can be frustratingly difficult and unforgiving but the sense of accomplishment that you feel after beating a particularly tricky boss makes it all worth it.

While Hunt the Night’s combat should delight those players looking for a real challenge, things fare a little less good when it comes to dungeoning. This is where those minor niggles pop up. For one, collision detection and hitboxes feel off, often making it awkward to navigate some of the trickier obstacles from stage hazards. Because of this, unwarranted damage becomes an inevitability not tied to player skill. Additionally, it is actually possible to get stuck in some of the environmental puzzles, in particular those where you’ll need to use your ranged attacks to manipulate platforms. Ammo doesn’t regenerate automatically but requires you to rack up combos, and in these sections, it’s entirely possible to run out of ammo midway such a section with no way to replenish it. With save points being scarce, prepare for a lot of backtracking when this happens.

In theory, Hunt the Night is a fairly short game, clocking in at around 15 hours. However, how long it’ll actually take you to beat it depends on how quickly you master the game’s intricate combat, as you might need several tries to get past the trickiest battles or the more confounding puzzles. In fact, the rhythm of the fast-paced combat grinds to a halt whenever you are confronted with a lengthy puzzle section, so perhaps Hunt the Night’s overall pacing could have used some more work. Should you decide to embark on this quest, we do recommend dusting off your controller as we found the twin-stick setup to be a lot more enjoyable than our first attempt to tackle the game with a mouse and keyboard. The game is supposedly coming to consoles in the near future and we did feel like it was specifically designed for that sort of setup.


If you’ll pardon us the pun, the difference between Hunt the Night’s best elements and its worst ones is night and day. The combat system is excellent and will satisfy those craving Souls-like difficulty but the Zelda-esque puzzles could have really used more work. Not only is it possible to get stuck on these, but they also affect the game’s generally fast-paced flow. There is more good than bad here, so if you’re looking for a true challenge, we still recommend checking out the game, but be aware that Vesper’s quest comes with a few rough edges.

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