It’s here and it’s sick. Should you buy Hatred? Should it even exist?
Hatred is a game for not caring, for three in the morning when you’re desperate and exhausted with life, for when there’s nothing left to smoke and all you can do is luxuriate in numbness. It’s a brainless celebration of death for death’s sake.
It’d be convenient to write Hatred off as having no place in the world of entertainment, but we all know that’s a lie. Moralists may like to compartmentalize video game violence by degrees of acceptability – whereby a shooter in which you travel to the Middle East and slaughter “insurgents” with the West’s space-age weaponry may be fine, but a kid going thermo in a residential neighbourhood is not – but the high horse’s hobbled trot will never win this argument’s race. It’s here, as is its right.
Hatred is a horrible game, and that’s a success. It’s supposed to be. You can ignore it if you like, but you may as well snap on your favourite blindfold for all the good it’ll do. You can buy it today, and many will.
To address the more tedious conversation surrounding Hatred first, the answer is yes, it should exist. And before you shave religiously every morning and rattle your Daily Mail, I’d like to introduce you to a band I listen to on occasion. Brainbombs is a Swedish noise group best known for its lyrics focused on serial killer-inspired rape, torture, murder and child abuse. The most recent album, Disposal of a Dead Body, contains such delightful ditties as Kill Them All, Fuck You All and How to Make an Ordinary Man Sick. The first line of its first track, Libera Me Domine, is, “Can’t you see the monster in me?”
Brainbombs’ music is brutally hardcore, a terrifying, revolting mess of undeniable horror. Is it worthwhile? It depends on the context. You only listen to it for one reason: to disgust yourself, to stare slack-eyed while the blades, freshly turned river mud and bloody plastic bags ruin your ears. Should it be banned? Of course not. For what reason? Because you don’t like it?
You’ve probably never heard of Brainbombs. The only reason Hatred caught any attention whatsoever is because this type of content is rare in games (but not unheard of: Manhunt and Postal were similarly borderline), but it falls into the same category. This is marginal, exploitative material designed to explore a taboo.
But should you bother buying it? Rarely has the answer been more subjective.
Hatred, an isometric twin-stick shooter for PC, is a civilian massacre game in which the target is everyone, including yourself. You are a man “of hate” and your time has come to kill and die. Your objectives are to shoot and execute innocent adults (no, children aren’t included), security guards and police officers over a range of environments using guns, rockets, flamethrowers and knives. Despite only having reached the third level at the time of writing, it’s obvious there is nothing to Hatred other than killing. You hate. You kill. That’s it. Death – “the lowest common denominator,” as our fun-loving lead would have it – is the point.
As a game, Hatred isn’t bad. It isn’t especially good either, but it does have its moments. It’s a relatively basic, challenging shooter in which you may be required to destroy a party and murder its revelers, or “cleanse” a police station, or kill everyone on a jetty. The palette is an unrelenting black and grey, with splashings of red, blue and yellow spared for blood, fire and police lights. If you take on too many cops you die, and rare respawns must be earned by, obviously, massacring innocents. You can only replenish health by executing downed targets.
Once I became au fait with the awkward control system, I found myself casually mowing down crowds of screaming men and women with no flicker of emotion. I stood in front of a burning police station with an AK-47 emptying magazine after magazine through the glass doors and I watched the blood run, the faces vanish. I withdrew and returned to kill more, going upstairs to clear rooms of sheltering civilians, to clip them with pistol rounds then, once they crawled, crying, across the monochrome floor, to behead them with my shotgun. And I didn’t think anything. When the game asked me if I wanted to respawn or restart the level I closed it down, then rebooted later when I wanted to think nothing again.
I will go back. Hatred is a game for not caring, for three in the morning when you’re desperate and exhausted with life, for when there’s nothing left to smoke and all you can do is luxuriate in numbness. It’s a brainless celebration of death for death’s sake. You may find that relevant. You may not. Should it exist? Sure. It isn’t illegal. It’s allowed.
But should you personally play? I don’t know. I don’t know you. Only you know the answer to that. Just do what you want while you’re still able, man. Just do what you want.
Hatred releases today for PC.