HunterX on Nintendo Switch is a sidescrolling action Metroidvania game developed by a team with one of my favourite names in the industry, Orange Popcorn. In HunterX you play as Tsuki, a girl who is joined by a weird little sidekick. Together the two of you are tasked to fight Devils. That’s about all I understood. HunterX has almost no story. I had no fucking clue what was happening at any given point. Thankfully though, what HunterX lacks in its story it makes up for it with its very satisfying gameplay and shockingly large map.
HunterX doesn’t reinvent the Metroidvania genre in any way. Games in the future aren’t going to be called MetroidvaniaX because of this game. It’s very much a run of the mill Metroidvania experience. However, it’s really fun. The melee combat, while very simple, feels great. Each attack has a certain heft to it. There’s even a dedicated block button which adds the ability to parry! As someone who has played a lot of Street Fighter Third Strike, I always get pumped to see that word. Landing a parry feels so good in HunterX. In fact, the first boss I ran into had me challenging myself to parry every single strike. I refused to beat him until I could do exactly that. When I ended up succeeding I felt awesome. You know you’ve done a good job making a game when the press of a single button can bring that much joy out of the player.
There is a tremendous variety of enemies and boss fights in HunterX. Every 15 or 20 minutes I felt like I was fighting yet another boss who stood in my way. The boss fights are a total blast. Most of them actually put up quite a fight and had interesting movesets. I never once felt like I was in charge until a few attempts in. Where the boss fights and enemies suffer, however, are with their designs. I know this is a fairly low budget game, but the designs are very uninspired. The soundtrack however is awesome. Lots of fun melodical distorted guitar and thundering orchestras. There are even some pretty heavy synth based electronic tracks later on that really fits the vibe for this anime/gothic aesthetic. Any of these songs would fit perfectly on the Spotify playlist for “castle chase music.”
HunterX has a fairly large skill tree for you to flesh out along your journey. Some of these skills are passive upgrades to your overall health or damage while others let you dash through the air or shoot fireballs. Unfortunately I did hit a part of the game where I felt I was under levelled and I had to go back and grind for an hour or two. It kind of hurt the pacing of the game for me. But in a game that has legitimately no story I can recall, that isn’t the biggest problem in the world. I also found a lot of the puzzles dragged the pacing to a halt. Not that they were very difficult, but some of them give you literally no insight or idea as to what you’re supposed to do. There was one puzzle toward the beginning that had three statues. You had to hit them until they all faced a certain direction. It was really just guessing for a few minutes. When I got it I realized how simple the answer was, but I remember thinking to myself, “No, it can’t be that. That’s too simple.” But it was exactly that. They get a little more complicated and interesting as the game goes on, but they felt pretty unnecessary for the most part.
HunterX is a perfectly serviceable Metroidvania style game. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor does it make that claim. HunterX has some great value for a game that costs around $20. It gives you around 10 hours of satisfying gameplay with bosses all over the place constantly keeping you on your toes. You likely won’t feel like a better person for having beaten it, but you sure won’t feel worse off. I think it’s easy to recommend to anybody who likes a nice tough and cheap indie game. Maybe even wait for a sale if you’re on the fence. Something tells me this will be on sale a lot. If you start this up expecting another Symphony of the Night you’re going to be disappointed. But if you have a cool twenty dollar bill and a couple days off work, there are way worse ways to spend that time off.