PAX Aus 2018: Explore an alien world in Tech Hunter

Posted on November 1, 2018

Developed by three-person Adelaide-based studio Split Symmetry, Tech Hunter brings a robotic twist to the “exploration of alien worlds” genre popularised by No Man’s Sky. Tech Hunter is the team’s first title for PC and consoles, and I got to try out a demo of their game at this year’s PAX Australia.

In Tech Hunter, the player is on a colony space ship that lands on an alien world, and must use a variety of drones to search for treasures. Whilst you explore the seven different islands in the archipelago, you learn more about the previous civilisation, and what they have left behind. Throughout the game, you must upgrade your three different robot drones with artefacts you can scavenge throughout the environment.

The demo available at PAX Rising gave me a taste of one of the game’s puzzle areas, as well as Tech Hunter’s scanning mechanics.  I flew around a barren mountain range for a bit in my dropship to scan for objects. Once I had located the entrance to the area I had to infiltrate, I dropped out a little robot that looked like WALL-E.

The drone was quite intuitive to control, and fortunately comes with a little jump command to help it rescue itself when it gets stuck. The developer informed me that there are also two other drone types the player will be able to use.

Furthermore, the drones will be able to unlock new abilities through upgrades. Whilst the demo allowed me to recover artefacts, the upgrade components were not available.

The puzzles themselves may seem pretty familiar to anyone who has played the Shrines puzzles in Breath of the Wild. In them, I used the WALL-E robot to weigh down a series of switches in the correct order to open a door. Whilst I personally found the puzzle easy due to watching someone else complete it before me, it was intelligently designed and challenging. The developer explained how the puzzles went through multiple different development stages; for instance, the puzzle I played through was originally designed for the speedy drone, who was considered too difficult to control for that type of puzzle.

Overall, Tech Hunter is a game that emphasises thoughtful puzzle solving over combat or reflexes. The developer I talked to stated that the game is designed for fans of Skyrim and the Tomb Raider franchise, who prefer the puzzles more than the violence.

Whilst I played, the game had a narration from your human commanding officer explaining your tasks. The demo didn’t give me much of an idea of what the rest of the game’s story would entail, although Tech Hunter’s overall concept sounds very intriguing.

Whilst the initial island that I visited was somewhat lacking in environmental features, it was emphasised that this is still an early build. Furthermore, some of the later islands the developers have planned will contain more environmental hazards, such as lava.

Tech Hunter has been in development for about three years, but still has some ways to go. However, I look forward to exploring more of the world that Split Symmetry have created, and seeing more of the different features they have planned. Tech Hunter’s development can be followed on Split Symmetry’s website.