Sir, You are Being Hunted comes from indie developer Big Robot, a British developer started in 2010. They had pitched their idea for Sir on Steam Greenlight, and is currently released as a early access game on Steam.
When I first found out about Sir, You Are Being Hunted, I thought the whole premise of it rather silly. Steampunk-y robots in British accents and imitating the mannerisms of upper-class sportsman seemed like an easy equation for some cheap laughs. After watching the trailer, I had expected was some sort of comedic farce with robots, but what I didn’t expect, was how terrifying being hunted by robots actually was.
When I started Sir, You are Being Hunted, I opted to start out with nothing in my inventory. You could choose to start out with food, weapons and bandages, but a rather masochistic part of me wanted to have the full experience, so I started out with nothing.
The game starts out with little exposition from the ghost of your dead butler: a science experiment gone wrong has filled the island with murderous, gun wielding robots, and the only way to escape the madness is to find the mysterious fragments of the experiment and deliver them to a mysterious stone circle. The resulting explosion of the experiment has flung these fragments across an archipelago of islands, forcing you to search through wild fields and forests of the archipelago to find them, all while keeping away from the robots that want to kill you.
I started at the mysterious stone circle, which served as a save point and a place to deposit fragments. After a quick little tutorial on how to spot fragments (indicated by smoke rising in the distance), scavenge for supplies (some food and bandages), and some basic mechanics (hunger, health and visibility meter) the game let me loose on the wide open world.
I started out slowly. Walking cautiously around the fields, hiding in the tall grass, just in case there were robots close by. After a while, I realize that I would be able to hear the robots before I could see them, and at first it was comforting, but after a while, I would tense up at the sound of the otherworldly robotic voices in the midst of the quiet fields and forests.
I quickly learned that These robots weren’t the kind to play fair either. Along with regular hunters on the ground, there were robots in balloons, scanning the grounds with searchlights, robotic hounds that honed in on my scent, and devious traps hidden within the tall grass.
I slowly crawled across the island and scavenged for supplies in abandoned towns. Most of the stuff I found inside of homes were junk, but sometimes I would find something useful, like food (to feed my dwindling hunger meter), a bottle, (for thrown distractions) and alarm clocks (for time delayed distractions) my first goal was to find some sort of gun, because I wanted some insurance in case a fragment pickup went wrong.
Unfortunately, weapons are rare, which forced me into a stealth playstyle for the first half hour of my jaunt across the archipelago. I spent most of my time watching robot patrol patterns and throwing rocks and bottles to distract the patrols long enough to scavenge some houses, or to approach a fragment. Sometimes I follow the rising smoke and find a fragment, but the game has a tendency to psyche you out. There were a few times where I would waste my valuable supplies on sneaking past robots, just to see that the smoke in the distance was not a fragment, but a dead campfire.
The game seemed quiet and tame for the first half hour, until I got shot. The first time I got shot by a robot I literally jumped out of my chair. There’s so much underlying tension that comes from sneaking around quietly that when that tension finally snaps, it scared the heck out of me. I started panicking, fumbling through my inventory to bandage up the bleeding before making a mad dash to the stone circle. Fortunately, I was close enough to the stone circle to deposit my fragment and save my game, and for a moment, I thought I was safe there. But alas, the robots caught up with me and I was shot to death.
I loaded up my last save and started exploring again. Eventually, I found a boat, which served as a save point as well as a way to travel to another part of the archipelago. So I got on board and went onto a different island, which seemed to be more of the same, except this time around, I found a gun! A shotgun with two shells. It wasn’t a lot, but enough to even the odds a bit.
I went into the tall grass and decided to lure a robot in with an alarm clock. After the robot got close enough, I fired, and the robot went down into pieces, leaving me with another fully loaded shotgun. I would lure it’s hunting companion as well, but unfortunately, their shotgun broke in the crossfire, which left me with only one shotgun shell left, and I was in the sight of a robot and it’s hound. I ran, and made it only a few feet until I got stuck in a trap. It only took a little longer before the hounds caught up.
There is a beautiful fear and terror that comes from Sir, You are Being Hunted‘s simplicity. One would think that the fields and forests of a generic British isle would be the last place you would fear for your life, but the minimal HUD, vague exposition and the overwhelming freedom you are given can become really unnerving as you progress through the game.
At the moment, Sir, you Are Being Hunted seems a bit bare graphically, but that’s to be expected from a game that’s still in development. Nonetheless, this game gleams with potential, and definitely one to watch out for if you are a fan of the survival/horror genre. You can get the early access version of the game on Steam.