Achievement Hunter: Begins is a side-scrolling platforming achievement hunting game on Steam. There is no plot. You merely start the game and you’re thrown into a level where you can move left and right, climb up ladders, and jump. You can jump on enemies to kill them and perform up to three jumps before needing to land. There are coins to collect and portals sending you to other parts of the level. You can kill all of the enemies and collect all of the coins and continuously loop through the level indefinitely as the portal at the end brings you to the start. If you touch an enemy in a way other than a direct jump on the head then you’ll die, all the coins will reapper, but the enemies will stay defeated until you restart. There are no additional levels, there’s no ending, and all the while you’ll be constantly obtaining achievements just for having the game on.
To the game’s credit, it has a catchy little tune and the visuals are colorful and appealingly low-poly on purpose. On top of that, it also does exactly what it promises… it gives you tons of achievements very quickly and easily. And to its discredit, there’s not really any reason to play it other than to kill time while those achievements roll in. You could just idle it and do something else instead, but at least you can kill that time. Though you’ll never want to pick it up again once you have them all. And so this brings me more to the topic of the genre in general.
You see, achievement hunter games are there to show off your collection of virtual trophies for the bragging rights on the internet. And so the thought process is that if you have more achievements completed you must be a better gamer. Something like that, anyways. And changes in policies were making some previous forms of cash grabbing unreliable, such as simply slapping trading cards on any cheap piece of trash cobbled together and tossed up through Steam Greenlight. So the idea of making cheap games with loads of achievements that take no skill to achieve turned into a popular new way to gret some cash. The games don’t have to be good as long as the achievements are rolling in and making everyone’s e-peen look nice. Of course, you can see the problem with a game designed with this in mind.
See… achievements, ideally, are supposed to mean something. You’re supposed to feel like you’ve earned them. Ya know… you’re supposed to feel like you’ve ACHIEVED something when you get them. In general these can be poorly implemented even in good games, but when they are literally obtained just from having the game running it takes away most of the point. You’re not hunting for the achievements in the games, you’re hunting for the games to get you the most for the least effort and price. Essentially, you are buying thousands of achievements with these games. And so there’s no incentive to make a good game to go along with them.
This is a real shame because Achievement Hunter: Begins has the beginnings of a decent little platformer. I mean, it’d need more levels and maybe something that tracks your coins or kills or a scoring system to come into play somehow… but it controls alright and looks nice enough. It also is unintentionally interesting with the way the level works. So it SEEMS like everything is basically all on one 2D plane as far as gameplay goes, but the presentation is in 3D with different sections that are higher and higher being places further back in the visual orientation. The reason I make this assumption is because I got bored and took some leaps of faith only to land on invisible platforms. When I could see some nearby from a different visual plane I noticed how what was and wasn’t an invisible platform seemed to line up with the other part of the level. Having hidden paths like this would be kind of dumb yet interesting… but I highly doubt that kind of care would’ve been put in to have it be intentional. There was also one particular spot I found that could’ve potentially been a secret warp to some other level. Perhaps it was an exit to a level that was never added because why would you need more for this type of game, right? Regardless, what happens is it would say loading on the screen and just sit there indefinitely until I restarted. This only further punctuates the lack of audio in the game. There’s practically nothing for sound effects and the music loops a bit and then just stops forever until you reset. This is why I have my doubts on it ever being intended as anything more than this or becoming anything more than this in the future. There’s just no incentive.
This brings up to recommendations. I can only recommend Achievement Hunter: Begins to anyone looking to try an achievement hunter game for themselves, someone who likes these games to up their achievement numbers, and on top of either of those I’d recommend you like the look of it because there’s not much else to really go off of for something like this. For a game of the genre, at least it had a few things I didn’t outright hate. It was an interesting blind stream I did of the game while I farmed all the achievements. However, in general I’d say just save your leftover Steam funds on something that’s at least more of a game on sale than a tool to obtain fake virtual recognition. It’s an experience, perhaps a tool, but it’s not really much a game without a true win-state or fail state. I guess that’s why they didn’t call it Achievement Hunter: Ends, eh?