The old saying 'the hunter becomes the hunted' has perhaps never been more apt for a video game than it is for Hunt: Showdown.
For those unfamiliar with the game, it is a first-person shooter survival horror from Crytek, which has been in the making for some time now. The game is set in the late 1890s - and it feels like we have been waiting that long to get our hands on it. But, oh my, was it worth the wait, and it certainly does not disappoint.
A multiplayer game with a difference
A host of monsters have overrun the 19th century world you inhabit and it is your job to hunt them down. But this is a multiplayer game with a difference. You team up with others to find and eliminate your genuinely terrifying adversaries before launching your escape plan.
There are big influences and nods to Capcom's hugely popular Monster Hunter here, and a dark, gritty, gloomy wretchedness that smacks of Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil.
I am a massive advocate of originality in video games. Despite taking on one of the most well-trodden genres in video gaming, Hunt: Showdown manages to give us something brilliantly fresh and thrilling.
Eerie gameplay and tough bosses
You are a bounty hunter working in the 19th century deep south which has been overrun by your zombified enemies. I found myself constantly on edge while playing. Gripped by the action and plunged into OCD anxiety to replenish my ever dwindling rations of ammo and healing bandages.
You are competing at any given time with as many as 11 other real life gamers for your bounty
The target is always a formidable monster lurking somewhere out there in the distance and you pick up clues which - in Fortnite style - shrink the playing area time and again until you have the location of the beast you have been building towards taking down.
The bosses reminded me very much of the more demanding foes in The Last of Us, and the game itself has a similar eerie feel to it as you play. There are three 'classes' of boss, so to speak - goliath, assassin and a terrifyingly huge spider.
You finally kill the beast and expend all your energy, palms sweating profusely. Job done? Not quite. You've only completed the first two steps - seek and destroy. Now it is time to escape. Kill the boss in its lair and it will drop the bounty which you must carry to one of the evacuation points on the map.
Exhausting but exhilarating
That's not all, though. You are competing at any given time with as many as 11 other real life gamers for the bounty and, if you run into them along the way, another edge of your seat shootout ensues.
All the commotion inevitably draws others to the fire fight. And just when you think things can't get any tougher - if you are the one carrying the bounty - your location is revealed to everyone on the communal map, drawing all and sundry of those skilled and nerveless enough to remain for a final fight to the death.
I'm exhausted just describing it, but I hope I have captured the essence of this unnerving, absolutely addictive masterpiece of a game.
Hunt: Showdown is an excellent example of how a simplistic approach to a genre as bloated as one of the pig-like monsters you encounter in the game can be a huge success, with a big dollop of originality.
Out: NowOn: PS4, Xbox One & WindowsRating: 9/10