5/16/2012

Yeti Hunter

Man has forever been haunted by the unknown; for as long as man could communicate, there have been legends and tales of horrible monsters that lurk in the shadows unknown waiting to strike. What do they want? Where did they come from? Who knows? Who cares? All that matters is that they are there, we don't know what they're up to, and we must destroy them, for some reason. This is Yeti Hunter.


Yeti Hunter (PC)
Developed & Published by: Vlambeer
Released: March 2012

The Himalayas are vast, foreboding region that spans the wilderness of Tibet and Nepal along the northernmost border of India. It's an area characterized by vast stretches of cold, frozen nothing; home to hundreds of mountains, many of which are among the world's tallest. And Yeti.

Many scientist argue that the Yeti, like it's cousin, BigFoot, is just a bear, or an unidentified species of ape. But these people are wrong, they wave their Ph-D's in your face, as if those mean anything. You are a rugged Yeti Hunter, you don't eat, you don't sleep, and you're boxers are likely caked with feces.

Yeti Hunter.

Yeti's know what it's like to feel not-so-fresh.

Yeti Hunter is an FPS that makes use of sprites, not unlike those seen in Wolfenstein, Quake, Hexen, and other early FPSes. Similarities end there, though, Yeti's style makes it stand-out; every sprite is a single, solid color, and has been drawn in extremely low-resolution, giving the game a... strange atmosphere. Despite the apparent (though deliberate) crudeness, Vlambeer does a good job of evoking a sensation of isolation, both through the moody, atmospherice music by the artist Kozilek, and by the fact that you can't fucking find anything. This is what one would classify as an 'art game' which, have a pretty strong stigma of being pretentious working against them, but I'll discuss that in a moment.

Yeti features a real-time day/night cycle, real-time assuming you live on the planet Mercury.

In Yeti Hunter it goes without saying that you hunt Yeti. The game uses a standard WASD setup, WAS & D to walk, mouse to look, you can climb trees to give yourself a higher vantage point, simply and convienintly by walking into them, you can run with Shift, and squat down with Ctrl, which incidentally is also ho you climb back down to the surface. All fairly standard so far, where Yeti's commands get somewhat unique is the firing mechanics. The game features a scope, as is the vogue in FPS games these days, but you cannot free-fire at all. It's not a huge difference, but it's still an interesting footnote. You use a hunting rifle (appropriate, as you're hunting) which can only fire once before needing to be reloaded. This is not a face-paced game, in case you haven't figured out. Click the right mouse-button to aim, and left to fire. Instead of firing from the hip, left-clicking when 'un-scoped' will instead provide a savage hunting beat to inspire your inner-warrior to kill. Or something.

Yeti Hunter.

This blood is telling me which direction to go...  I guess.

Now that you are familiar with the controls, it's time to hunt. Or watch

Yeti Hunter simply drops you into the vast wilderness of the Indian subcontinent, with no context or explanation. It's up to you to figure out everything for yourself, or in this case, let me figure it for you. If you're not observant, you may end up wandering around for what seems like forever, with nothing to show for your efforts. Lo, and behold, there was an  unassuming splatter of blood right by your starting point, which you must follow to the next splatter of blood, and so on, as the trail to the Yeti gets hotter.

Or you could just wander around aimlessly until a Yeti shows up.

If there was no divider between this screenshots, would you be able to tell the difference?

Brace yourselves.
The following is actual footage from an expedition in Nepal.


Are you man enough to hunt Yeti? Then download Yeti Hunter here.

And check out Vlambeer's other games too.

Spoilers ahoy:  Remember how I referred to this as an "art-game"? Well, there is a huge stigma against independently developed games,for many reasons which will be discussed in a post of their own. 

Unfortunately, Yeti Hunter falls victim to many of the tropes that have caused these game to come under fire.

The entire point of Yeti is that there is no Yeti. It's a mirage; every time you shoot at it, it disappears without a trace, only to appear elsewhere later. The game is meant to be a reflection on urban legends, I suppose, but that is exactly why it is at odds with conventional game design; It literally lies to you. Yeti isn't even really a game, per-se, as it's goal is not obtainable at all. From a design standpoint, it is an atrocious piece of work; you are given no instructions, it doesn't explain what to do, or how to control your character explicitly, like many modern games do, nor does it subtly coerce you into figuring it out like in many older games (a much better approach, but still absent from Yeti)

Alas, these problems are the point of Yeti, these flaws are meant to excite your sense of unease, and make you feel nervous, and overly-cautious. But this is a major point of contention: should a game be allowed to abandon good design in the name art? After all, David Lynch's movies are objectively terrible: the cinematography is confusing, and everything is 'off' in some way, and yet they are highly regarded because they were done so deliberately, and meant to elicit a certain reaction from the viewer. Lynch misused standard practice in an ingenious and innovative way But is the same true of games? Is not the very art of videogames lie in the craftsmanship of it's gameplay? I'm going to withhold my opinion on this matter until a later date. 

Yeti Hunter.

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