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Hacknet – Review

Hacknet is available for Mac, PC and Linux via Humble Bundle or  Steam for £6.99.

Hacknet logo

So we come to our third and (for now) final review of hacking games. There are probably more that we could have tried but these three felt like a good start. We can’t quite close this without giving a bit of a nod to Watch Dogs. I’ll be honest and say I’ve never actually played it but it has been on my watch list for some time. It takes a very different approach to the world of hacking. Although Watch Dogs was obviously designed more towards today’s console market but does this mean that the types of hacking game we have looked at are now dead as a format? Watch Dogs was in the news a lot upon its release but sadly not for its content but mores for having quite a few bugs in it on some formats. The great thing about this is probably by the time I get around to playing it they all should be fixed and I might have an enjoyable experience. However this is all about Hacknet so let’s get into it.

I put a fair amount of hours into Hacknet and I must say that I enjoyed it thoroughly. Right from the offset you’re intrigued by an odd entity called ‘Bit’ and lead to believe that you should investigate what had happened to it. The game then starts to open up as a story with ‘Bit’ giving you some simple tasks to follow to gently introduce you to the system. A few missions in and you attract the attention of Entropy who put you through a small test to prove that you have been paying attention to the tasks ‘Bit’ has been setting you. Should you succeed they take you on as a member of their team, first of all giving you a new toy to play with.

Checking my mail

Checking my mail

Hacknet feels very polished. The whole interface acts like an entire Operating System in a where you even get to manage the systems internal memory. There is something quite tangible and involving for me about being able to type commands, even more so that I can use the Tab key to autocomplete them. Anyone who has used a Mac/Linux terminal or newer versions of Windows command will know just how convenient this is and you wonder how you ever coped without it. The interface also provides a simple but effective point and click interface to support you (in case you hate typing). There is even a bit of an in-game Wikipedia that opens up to you fairly early on. When you first encounter this you may feel that the information is a bit like overload. However if you use it like you would Wikipedia and look up the thing you want to do before you do it you’ll find it a very valuable source of information.

A site to hack

A site to hack

Obviously, I don’t want to spoil the storyline to HackNet as there is one and I personally found it very engaging. The pacing is a bit more sympathetic than it was in Uplink which put a lot of pressure on me as a player from the outset but it’s still there. To give you an example one of the first tools that open up to you (called PortHack) hacks into the system by displaying a small animation flooding the system with username/password combinations. Uplink had a similar thing and there is definitely some similarities to be drawn between the two products but that’s not a bad thing. For me there is certainly a nice balance between the display and level of interaction required by the player, you don’t necessarily want to have to go through some sort of skills test every time you want to hack a system, that might feel less like gameplay and more like an actual job. The audio is also really good with an awesome soundtrack that you can buy separately (£6.99) or with the game (£10.99), atmospheric without being too imposing. My mind enjoys hearing the arrival of a mail so that I can pick up the next job or find out more what happened to ‘Bit’.

Hacking in progress

Hacking in progress

Yes, Hacknet is definitely one to buy, worth every penny if you ask me. Why don’t you go right now and give this talented indie developer some money and enjoy the journey he takes you on. We did reach out to the developer with some questions and he did get back in touch but we want to save his interview for a follow-up article. Perhaps you have you already played his game and want to share your opinion with us? As per usual you can do so via the comments section, RedditFaceBook or Twitter

Overall Score: 7.5/10


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