Review

Sir, You Are Being Hunted Review

  • Game release: May 2, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

The Ghost and the Doldrums.

The English literary critic Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch posited that there are only seven basic conflicts in fiction when you get down to it: man against man, man against nature, man against himself...and so on and so forth in that fashion. Call them the kindred spirits of well-worn video game terms like player versus player and player versus environment. They're a little anthropocentric, sure, but all that man versus this and man versus that does get across one thing: man has a tendency to pick fights with pretty much anything. Still, Sir Quiller-Couch never quite made it to man against robot. That's an archetype left to be explored by more contemporary Brits, like the development team of Big Robot, maker of Sir, You Are Being Hunted.

The protagonist is trapped on a randomly generated archipelago that's one half British moor, one half otherworldly hellscape. He might be an aristocrat, or perhaps a cook or inventor, with a scant few survival resources to his name. Whatever his profession of choice, he has managed to run afoul of some dandified local robots intent on mounting his head on their cigar room wall. In order to escape, he needs to track down 17 remnants of the device that transported him there, and return them to a centrally located set of standing stones.

Robots can be picked out easily at a distance by their telltale red gaze.

How to best categorize the experience? If we were to follow Quiller-Couch's lead, breaking the video game medium into its essential permutations, our lowest common denominators might be those games that cast their players as predators, and the narrower swath that casts them as prey. Sir, You Are Being Hunted is nominally one of the latter. Its "tweedpunk" robots wear top hats and sport double-barreled shotguns, and by all outward impressions are ready to pursue "the most dangerous game." So you'd be forgiven for any visions of baying robo-hounds on your scent or Cylon-eyed trackers inspecting the footprints you've strewn across the English moor. But in Big Robot's take on the manhunt, the hunted becomes the hunter faster than you can say "They drew first blood."

On some level, that sort of shifting power dynamic is to be expected. Stories about hunts are often stories about comeuppance, whether that means Charles Remington getting mauled by lions in The Ghost and the Darkness, or whatever happens to Jurassic Park's Robert Muldoon after he says "Clever girl." But it doesn't take much to flip that switch in Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Just a chance discovery of a weapon (or the selection of the officer class, which comes with its own firepower), and then you're the predator, stalking your prey and waiting for an opportune moment to cave in a straggler's metal skull. That's not to suggest that there's much punch to Sir's combat, though. There are only a couple of same-ish weapons on hand, all unwieldy. And the idea that these robots deem you beneath them on the food chain belies the fact that their artificial intelligence isn't anything to write home about, either. They're easily baited away with a thrown bottle or lured into a bear trap by the ringing of an alarm clock--the long and short of the stealth systems on offer.

No textures stand up to close scrutiny, but that's how you usually see them.

You could avoid them almost entirely--most of the robotic hunters seem content to simply wander the islands at random, rather than actively search for you--except for the little matter of your exit strategy. That is, the 17 fragments of your transporter that have been cast to the four corners of your procedurally generated world. You can carry only so many at a time (even more than one is a risky venture when death sets you back to before you pocketed them), so you're stuck perpetually circling back to the center of the map to offload them. It's an objective that throws the natural vectors of the chase into disarray; what might otherwise be a more direct flight from danger becomes the looping, meandering path of one of the kids in a Family Circus comic, to and from the standing stones, trip by agonizing trip. Compounding the matter is that the fragments are typically guarded by bots that have to be dispatched by hook or by crook. When you're crouched in the tall grass, weighing the unsavory options of Sir's stealth and combat systems on either hand, you don't feel much like prey.

If only the grass looked a little nicer, perhaps all the time spent staring at it up close wouldn't wear on your patience. Sir, You Are Being Hunted's procedural island generator doesn't seed the landscape with much meaningful variety--even for English swamplands--and the foliage you spend most of your time huddled in is terribly rudimentary. Buildings, for their part, function only as crates, to be clicked for a pop-up menu displaying their contents. Strangely, the underbaked aesthetics often lend the islands an uncanny, haunting appearance, especially at night when shadows change their cast in bizarre shifts, and the moonlight shines on blocky textures that look like they were run through a randomized Photoshop filter.

Once in a while, the world procedurally generates something haunting.

Of course, with all the random asset generating that's going on underneath Sir's hood, it's only natural that the stars do occasionally align. The subdued British humor of the items you find usually paints by the numbers, but once in a while you happen upon a playable trombone or something equally irreverent, and all's well for a while. The robots, for their part, are delightful contradictions that intone Anglicisms and serve commendably as both cold, calculating sentinels and prancing, mustachioed fops. When you err enough to have to wait out a few passing groups, and their patrols veer toward your hiding place, the tension certainly ramps up.

But those rare moments aside, the essential elements of Sir, You Are Being Hunted--the conflicts between man and machine, between hunter and hunted--aren't getting their due. Here is a game that wants to tell a basic story, but that's left too much space between its opposing forces to make them duel.

The Good
Robot designs are equal parts comical and intimidating
The world occasionally takes on an uncanny, haunting quality
The Bad
Most of the hunting gets done by you, whether for items, enemies, or objectives
Laborious backtracking and MacGuffin collecting don't serve the stealth mechanics
Blocky, rudimentary objects and cringe-inducing textures assault the eyes
4
Poor
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Sir Nick Capozzoli spent a dozen hours with Sir, You Are Being Hunted as a curiously savage aristocrat, and dabbled with a few of the alternate classes on hand.

Discussion

76 comments
xtremeflem2day
xtremeflem2day

Deserved at least a 7 IMO, i thought it was a unique combination of witty and scary strategy.

meszugesofe
meszugesofe

a triumph of science.. the game, i mean. the only thing shoddy here are the paragraphs above.

cheerio!

RedEyedMonster8
RedEyedMonster8

Are some of you guys completely incapable of thinking for yourselves? Just because the reviewer doesn't like the game doesn't mean you won't.

leikeylosh
leikeylosh

Nick Capozzoli, the best reviewer on this site today, in my humble opinion. By the way, this game really sucks. I played for about half an hour and couldn't bear anymore.

RogerioFM
RogerioFM

The game has style over substance, it's not bad, but the World feels empty, avoid robots, get rocks, go back to the thing, place rocks, repeat until complete. Well, you do have to find food occasionally, but overall, it's too easy and boring.

unreal849
unreal849

Aww, that's a shame. I would have loved to play this if it was good.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

People raved about this game.  I was confused to say the least.

skyke101
skyke101

I think Don't Starve is kind of similar to this, and I prefer Don't Starve because of the variety in it

chris1980s
chris1980s

Good review, nice to see someone brave enough to buck the 'cool indie 9/10 all round' trend. But can he be brave enough to give a platformer such an honest appraisal? 

foxrock66
foxrock66

Nick is very quickly becoming my favorite reviewer

spuriousgeorge
spuriousgeorge

To me, Sir you are Being Hunted is the a demonstration of the rule that art style is more important than graphics, but graphics still matter. The construction of SYABH's style is impeccable. Each robot looks like a caricature of a type of a stereotypical british bloke. But the graphics really do weigh it down. Altogether, I always had fun playing it, whether I took a stealthy or a violent tactic.

I must admit, I was a bit surprised by the score. I hate reviewer bashing but, I feel like the actual appeal of the game got lost in the reviewers preconceived notion of what the game was going to be like.

SingletreeAve
SingletreeAve

Isn't this a low-budget indie title fresh out of Steam early access?  I'm surprised they even reviewed it.

speedfog
speedfog

The game was fun, but I only played it for 2 hours

loafofgame
loafofgame

Danny seemed to enjoy the game a lot during Random Encounter, although it was clearly a first impression. I would like to know if he still feels the same after spending more time on the game...

angry_cowtipper
angry_cowtipper

I take it this review was freelanced? Thus, it means nothing to me. I have no idea who this joker is or what his perspective on games are. One of the reasons I stick to Giant Bomb is because if a known personality isn't reviewing it, it doesn't get reviewed... and not all games need to be reviewed. 

Redblaze27
Redblaze27

I like this game, just wish it had better controller mechanics.

dbene
dbene

You, sir, are a sucky game.

lukey52
lukey52

Watched this game on random encounter and thought it looked like fun. Felt like better than a 4 then. Still if you're not into what it's trying to do it's clearly not going to be enjoyable.

thermalmotion
thermalmotion

I watched Danny play this game and it looked awesome.

cowbellkid
cowbellkid

The release date says "Coming Dec 31, 2097". What are they developing Nuke Dukem: Diablo 99?

therabidbob
therabidbob

I've been playing this since it was in Early Access and it deserves better than a 4. My major complaint would be that running from island to island looking for wisps of smoke can get a bit dull when you're coming down to the last few key stones, but the game is pretty tense and has a nice sense of humor. I would give it a 7. 

ShepardCommandr
ShepardCommandr

just another crap indie game on steam as if we don't have enough of those already

chibistevo32
chibistevo32

Eh, the game isn't 4/10 bad.


That pistol does look like a playdoughgun though.

jimmy_russell
jimmy_russell

I was going to drop GTA Online to play this game but .... lol no I wasn't, and you believed that line? Pffft. PC gaming is dead.

prats93
prats93

Lol, PC games these games.

faizanhd
faizanhd

Oh Unity engine............................


Lhomity
Lhomity

Another in a long line of disappointing crowdfunded games. ;(

liquidbutter
liquidbutter

"their artificial intelligence isn't anything to write home about, either. They're easily baited away with a thrown bottle or lured into a bear trap by the ringing of an alarm clock"

Isn't that how it should be? Would you rather have them ignore the noises? How is that smart AI? I'd find it frustrating if I threw a bottle and the enemies weren't distracted by it.

jupsto
jupsto

The game has some big flaws but its unique and fun enough to deserve much higher than a 4. 


At times the game is actually really nice looking, I agree that the textures are too low res for a PC game.


But what I find ironic is that they are still probably higher res than 360/ps3 games that get 9/10s on this site.

Aletunda
Aletunda

Got the game back in early access, although I agree with some of the points made in this review and that this game isn't nearly as good as it could be, I don't think its quite deserving of such a low score

with_teeth26
with_teeth26

I played this briefly back in Early Access and found it very boring, haven't felt the urge to give it another try. This is not the encouraging poke I needed. 

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@foxrock66  Yea I like reading this guys reviews even though he tends to cover games I have no interest in... go figure!

shadow580
shadow580

@angry_cowtipper  Jeez, reviews done by an anonymous source can stand on their own based on the content they hold. Take this review at face value instead of discarding it just because on of your idols isn't doing the review. Giant Bomb is great but your deduction not so much.

chris1980s
chris1980s

@ShepardCommandr Steam has become a toilet in the last few years. I'm slowly switching to other platforms like Origin.

therabidbob
therabidbob

@jimmy_russell  "I was going to drop GTA Online to play this game but .... "  Sure you were. 


Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@jimmy_russell  

I doubt that you were going to do that - I doubt that you even know that this game exists at all.

PowerSwitchOff
PowerSwitchOff

@prats93 The exact sort of thing a 12-year-old spoiled potty mouth brat without a sense of sport playing Call of Dung on Xbox Live would say.

jecomans
jecomans

@liquidbutter  The AI is stupid. They can't see you when you're crouched right in front of them basically, and their searching once they get wind of you isn't very effective. But, yes, if a game gives you mechanics to distract enemies that don't work, I would call that a broken mechanic.

loudangryjerk
loudangryjerk

@liquidbutter  pretty sure he'd rather they be able to figure out obvious traps like that after it happens once... which doesnt happen.

jecomans
jecomans

@dannydopamine8  They love games, which is why they write reviews to try and make sure peoples precious gaming time is reserved for the better examples. 

liquidbutter
liquidbutter

@loudangryjerk @liquidbutter Ahh I see. His critique should have been that they can always be tricked by the same distraction over and over again without ever catching on. I guess "smart AI" would be if you threw out a series of bottles and after a given number they go into an alert mode and start searching for the bottle thrower.

therabidbob
therabidbob

@loudangryjerk @liquidbutter  Unless they have a hive mind it wouldn't make sense for you to use a trap on one set of robots then run across the island and not have it work on a different set. I think the complaint is more that there are only a handful of largely samey ways to accomplish tricking robots.

Still good game.  

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@phbz

Why even tell me that - especially since I am already aware of it? :/

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@dannydopamine8  

I have also told you earlier that telling some other person to shut up over the Internet doesn't work. Also, go ahead, slap a b*tch - over the Internet.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted More Info

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  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • Unix/Linux
    Sir, You Are Being Hunted is a game where you're tasked with surviving on an island that is procedurally generated, dodging robot hunters out to get you and scavenging for food along the way.
    5.9
    Average User RatingOut of 12 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Sir, You Are Being Hunted
    Developed by:
    Big Robot Ltd
    Published by:
    Big Robot Ltd
    Genres:
    First-Person, 3D, Shooter, Action, Team-Based