EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Gamers have it easy these days. Yes, there can definitely be issues with video card compatibility upon release of a game, but the early days of PC gaming would scare today’s generation of gamers. I fondly remember having to play around with DOS commands just to enable enough RAM to be available to run games. Yes... DOS... where you needed to type commands rather than click PLAY from your Steam library within a Windows environment.
Hacknet revives those old memories of having to type commands in order for things to work. It has you playing the role of a Hacker, attempting to crack the online vault of organisations using nothing but a range of special commands that bare strong similarities to the old DOS syntax. The story is played out via emails from a hacker known only as Bit. His life has ended in mysterious circumstances which appear to be incorrectly reported in the media. It is up to you to hack through various systems in order to find out the truth and ensure that the Hacknet-OS does not fall into the wrong hands.
For those unfamiliar with the old DOS or UNIX commands, Hacknet does a great job of skilling you up by adding new commands gradually into the mix so that the hacking code doesn’t overwhelm. And there is always a Help menu available in the event that you forget the specific syntax or commands required to complete a certain task. Having started as a gamer prior to the Windows platform, I probably had a slight advantage.
Indeed Hacknet is more of a puzzle game than anything, as you use the specific commands and software applications at your disposal to find ways through the varying systems. Often there is a pattern involved in completing the tasks, but as mentioned earlier, new commands and skills are introduced in such a way to keep you on your toes and your mind working as new challenges are placed in front of you.
Being that the game is about hacking, the visuals aren’t all that interesting to look at. It’s the football equivalent of a fantasy league with little action at all, apart from the odd red flashing screen to tell you that you are running out of time or a bunch of binary (or hexadecimal) numbers scrolling to represent a code being broken. If you are looking for some Witcher 3 style visuals, then you have definitely come to the wrong place, as Hacknet more resembles the old-school text adventures. There are some menu-style visuals once you have hacked into certain systems, but for the most part, this game has a text-based adventure feel.
Although the Early Access code we received was only for a reasonably short part of the game, I did find myself wanting to find out more, which is always a good indication. It was almost as if the developers have designed it to be like one of the old shareware titles that only included the first two levels of a particular game before you had to purchase the rest. And that only further enabled the retro feel of Hacknet.
The largely text-based visuals, the background music, and even the 1980’s style storyline all round out that feel. As a gamer from way back, one where you had to use imagination to work out what some of the visuals were supposed to represent, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of Hacknet once it reaches its full release.
There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.