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Games review: Sir, You Are Being Hunted (PC)

Robots.

I've wasted a few in my time. Be they giant city-shaking mechs, or silent assassin droids, or even just legion upon legion of Homicidi-bots, they've all fallen before my blasters, crowbars, plasma rifles or whatever other weapons I had to hand at the time.

But now the tables have been thoroughly turned. I have no guns. I have no escape. All I have between my mechanised pursuers and me are my wits and some Christmas cake. This time the bots have the blasters. The hunter is well and truly the hunted. It's going to be a short fight.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted is an indie game in development by Big Robot that has finally been unleashed into the wild for early adopters to get a look at while more features are added.

Less a shoot-em-up, more a stealth-em-up, the object of the game is to collect 25 pieces of mysterious plot device scattered across five randomly generated islands and take them to a set of standing stones to assemble something which will presumably lead to your rescue.

I say presumably because I haven't been able to get within a bushy whisker of this goal. I'm being chased by an army of Terminators in tweed and top hats who have decided to go after the ultimate game: me. And they are very, very good at it. Crack shots to a man-bot, each of them.

Each of the islands is a recognisable environment, such as fenland or industrial zone, and the key to survival is to use the terrain to your advantage. Romp through the bogs like an athlete and you'll soon be spotted and gunned down. But crawl on your belly or sneak behind walls like the cowardly dog you are, and you might just make it.

Surviving is a balancing act. Getting shot reduces your health and can make you bleed out, and two to three hits are usually fatal. But health can be built up again if you have enough vitality and bandages to tie up your wounds, so it's important to keep eating and carry a ready supply of rags to wrap up injured appendages.

Supplies are found in the buildings dotted around the landscape, and the best strategy is to treat the whole thing like a deadly game of hide and seek, outfoxing the hunters by staying out of the line of sight of their menacing red glowing eyes while you loot buildings and search for the cones of smoke that indicate the location of another piece of the puzzle.

Set in a whimsical Victorian-era world as remembered by a Hammer House of Horror enthusiast, Sir… grabs its Olde English countryside tropes with both hands. Food is never straightforward. Rations come in the form of canned pies, brandy or mouldy potatoes, while the robots sometimes deploy hot-air balloons for aerial surveillance.

Character classes, which give you a range of starting gear, also come from the Boys Big Book Of Victorian Adventure, and include The Aristocrat (the honourable choice), The Gamekeeper (smells like a badger) and The Officer (motto: shoot first, then nick their country).

But best of all are the bots themselves, who smoke pipes and speak in a 1950s sci-fi babble of bleeps and bloops, announcing your escape with a cry of "lost the blighter".

Available for PC at www.big-robot.com or through Steam at store.steampowered.com/app/242880/

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