Huntdown is immediately gripping. The game opens with static pixel art images fading in and out over a scrolling, fully voice acted narrative introduction. It's the 21st century, but things have gone south fast in this dystopian world. War has left society in shambles and now mega-corporations vie for power against rampaging gangs. On the edges of these two factions are bounty hunters that will take out anyone for the right price.
It's a little Mad Max, a little Bladerunner, and all 80s. From the synthwave soundtrack to the neon-lit, bombed-out, graffitied cityscapes, this game just oozes that incomparable 80s vibe. I was addicted in seconds and haven't put the game down since. You better believe that this action platformer is 100% going on the list of our best Android games.
To make your way through this brutal new world, you'll take on the role of three possible bounty hunters: Anna Conda, John Sawyer, and, my personal favorite, Mow Man. Taking jobs from a shadowy figure known as Wolfmother, you head out on the huntdown to eliminate all manner of unsavory heathens through sheer brute force.
Huntdown is reminiscent of legendarily difficult games like Contra, but for the most part it felt fair. The game supports Bluetooth controllers, but I played with touchscreen controls to get the true mobile experience. You have a virtual d-pad in your lower left corner, three main action buttons in your lower right corner, and two smaller buttons directly above those for sub-weapons and special actions. Your main actions are jump, shoot, and weapon swap (or "activate" in some cases) and your sub actions are things like taking a short dash and throwing kunai and grenades.
I found the controls to be decent, but I have pretty small hands and even I struggled with missed inputs. Accidentally shooting rather than jumping killed me more than once and I particularly struggled to use the smaller dash button as effectively as I needed to, especially in heated situations like boss battles. There were also a few occasions where my thumb obscured an incoming enemy and they were able to close in on me before I could mow them down. That's not to say that the touchscreen controls are bad, but if you have a controller available to you then I'd say go ahead and use it for an improved gameplay experience.
You need to use everything at your disposal—guns, crowbars, grenades, and more—to survive this chaotic world.
Controls aside, the gameplay is challenging all on its own. Between platforming and combat, you have to constantly scan your surroundings for incoming threats, new weapons to pick up, and secret treasures to collect. Enemies tend to come at you in waves and it's easy to find yourself surrounded if you're not approaching new areas from a favorable position.
The main focus involves maximizing your movement (dash, jump, and crouch), cover, and the environment to keep yourself ahead of the hordes of baddies coming at you. If you plan things out well enough you can often take out a whole nest of foes by blowing up a gas barrel right next to them. However, if you're too slow they can run out of range and be on you before you're able to take them all out. Blindly running in is sure to get you killed most of the time.
Levels are compact (new levels took me anywhere from 5-10 minutes to complete) and feature periodic checkpoints that will refill your health back up to max, but surviving to the next checkpoint is harder than it sounds. You have just a few health points at your disposal and slain enemies don't often drop health packs.
Gritty, funny, and over-exaggerated, Huntdown's atmosphere is perfectly matched to its chaotic gameplay.
One of the most fun elements of the game is that enemies will come at you with an awesome range of weapons and fighting styles. Some will unleash vicious dogs on you, others wield crowbars and bats, and most have an impressive variety of guns that you can steal away like shotguns, submachine guns, automatic rifles, and even a few special weapons.
On top of its addictive gameplay, Huntdown truly succeeds with its atmosphere. It's gritty, but there's a humorous bent to the dialogue from both your own characters and enemies. Foes are hilariously over-exaggerated to the point of being ridiculous, decked out with mohawks, leather, and misplaced confidence, which just adds to the general vibe of a debauched future in total chaos. Did we also mention this was inspired by the 1980s?
This game also has the best dang soundtrack I've heard so far this year, with driving percussion, synths for days, and classic arcade sound effects to give it a gritty, pulpy 80s feel. The audio effects are very well done and give your actions a tangible, impactful oomph to make every kill satisfying.
Huntdown's punchy synthwave soundtrack is one of the best I've heard this year
Graphically speaking, the 16-bit pixelated style looks phenomenal and translates incredibly well to mobile (Huntdown was originally released for PC in 2020), with a vibrant color palette and super fun character designs. The level of detail put into the backgrounds is especially appreciated and I found myself being reminded of films like Akira and The Warriors more than once. It's not exactly necessary, but a phone with a nice, big display could help bring these beautiful graphics to life.
Huntdown's first two levels are free to play as a demo through the Play Store, but after that you'll need to lay down $8.99 to unlock the full game. There are 20 levels in Story Mode plus an infinite Arcade Mode. There's a little replay value in getting all of the collectibles and working your way up to perfect runs on each level.
There's very little to not like about Huntdown and with no ads or microtransactions after purchasing the full game, I would say that this one is easily worth its premium cost. If you want a raucous good time packed with mayhem and sci-fi noir style, look no further than Huntdown.