WAY OF THE HUNTER is a hunting simulation game developed by None Rocks Games, published by THQ Nordic and set in the Pacific Northwest, later taking you to summer in Transylvania.
Australia’s hunting culture tends to be rural and not something a lot of city-dwellers have much exposure to – but let me tell you, Way Of The Hunter is just as much a hunting game as it is a way to teach people about ethical ways to hunt.
The game starts out as many games as Stardew Vally does, a city slicker moving out to your sick grandfather’s cabin to live off the land and help out as best as possible. There is a story within the game telling of the issues within the family as your father was never supportive of your grandfather’s ways of killing animals and as such, has put a strain on the family for many years and left your father and grandfather’s estranged relationship.
All of this is told via emails between your Grandfather as he guides and assists you and as you progress the story is told out in comic book form as these are then mailed to you from your sick grandfather in his hospital bed. All the emails and comic books are voiced over extremely well for a game you wouldn’t expect it from.
While on the topic of audio, the sounds of this game are incredible as they serve to help you seek your targets, so best to have a good sound system or headset for this, as it really emerges you within the countryside as you hunt for ducks, deer, elk, pheasants etc. It really does an amazing job of making you feel like you’re out in the wilderness.
On the graphic side of things, Way of the Hunter is very high in production value from the foliage to the dense forests surrounding the area. It really is a sight to behold as I would compare it to Far Cry 5 in terms of how great this game looks.
Now comes time for the main part of the game, hunting. You will start off with your Grandfather’s old rifle and as you play throughout the game and sell your kills to restaurants or even have them turned into taxidermy and then set them on display in the cabin you will earn money to upgrade your rifles, scopes and even purchase ‘callers’ that will assist you in finding your prey.
As you travel around the wilderness, there are a lot of factors at play. Depending on the way the wind is blowing, the animals will be able to pick up your scent or even if you get too close can spook them, this can make the game incredibly hard and frustrating at times, as you can be tracking them with you ‘Hunter Senses’ for a long time only to have them spooked and run away. Even shooting them an exercise in patience as they will not simply just go down right away, but run at times and you will have to track the blood trails left behind to eventually catch up. If you manage to hit a perfect shot, however, they will go down immediately.
A way to give yourself the upper hand in these instances is to use the many hunter stations littered across the areas with decrease your scent and movement sounds that spook the animals in Way of the Hunter. What this will then mean is you will be waiting in these stations for potentially (in game) hours on end gluing your eyes to your binoculars and playing the waiting game.
As you search each area, you will find dropping, areas where they eat and foot prints. These make tracking your quarry easier and will then show up on your map to help you down the line to search for specific species of animal. If you need to travel long distances, you are able to use a car whose mechanics are well done. Even if they do spook most animals with their sounds, it’s a patience game and walking and crawling are encouraged after this.
There are also the occasional camps that you will find that are handy to use as a quick travel spot, but this won’t spawn your car. If you find yourself exploring new areas and then quick travel back to your cabin, the car will remain where you left it. It’s hear that I went to my laptop in the cabin and learned that if you select the car from the options, it will then spawn at the cabin.
Way of the Hunter is a game that preaches patience and ethical hunting in the wilderness. Its beautiful vistas and sounds are a true credit to the game.
While I can appreciate the skill required to track animals as it seems very realistic, spooking the animals can become frustrating and almost too sensitive. If you have no patience to wait and hunt slowly this is a game you might want to avoid. But if you are in for a true simulation game in every sense, this would be the game for you.