Courtesy of Eyepatch Wolf’s year overview I decided to give Fear & Hunger (SD) a spin. And oh boy, does it punch you in the face. Both Eyepatch Wolf and the game itself warn of NSFW/adult themes and it is definitely not kidding. It’s bleak, it’s harsh, it’s crude, and it will to a certain extent shock purely for shock value. So what’s the draw beyond it?
Purely the idea of blending the bleak and deadly world of Dark Souls with the classic JRPG genre is enough for me. I may have underestimated just how bleak it would be. Fear & Hunger starts with a tiny intro turning your decisions here into skills and feats. Already it’s pretty grim and the initial battle you will most likely encounter will be just a likely to kill you outright. It forces you to unlearn the JRPG trope of grinding. Actually, you’ll want to avoid combat encounters altogether. There’s no victory in fighting, it’ll only wear you down that much more.
The rest of the game seems to settle at a vicious point-and-click adventure, where every wrong decision will throw you back to whenever you made your last save. It feels unfair, but because of the gruesomeness and the shock value, every fatal decision is its own reward. In a way, it does what Until Dawn did: present shlocky horror as a shlocky game to enjoy with friends, and howl at every bad decision made. Despite (or maybe courtesy of) the NSFW elements, this will most likely make great streaming fodder or be the center of an alcohol-infused pass-the-controller gaming night.
I kind of enjoy it from that shlock angle. The game itself is just mean spirited at every corner. There’s little to learn in terms of mechanics; it’s better to intuit your way through it. However, despite the shock value and everything, the way the game builds an atmosphere is impeccable. The writing, the design, the audio, even the stupid gameplay mechanics, they all coalesce into a thick as mud creep vibe that’ll stay with you for some time after closing the game. If that’s your jam, give this a try. If not, there’s little reason to recommend this without the shlock corollary mentioned above.
Oh, and a part 2 just released, coincidentally.