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Hack the net

  • nhubi
  • 06/18/2014 07:54 AM
From the moment this game starts I’m in the right frame of mind, the music for the title sequence is upbeat and jazzy; definitely chase scene material and puts you in the mood to game.

Then the first cut-scene and credit roll in an elevator as our two protagonists Mana and Clade discuss the job they have been contracted to complete and I swear it has muzak. It’s priceless.

The game is short; the developer states 30 minutes to an hour and given it has only three levels in the hack that’s about right. My last autosave was 1h 6m, but then again I really liked the music in this game so I did take a little time to just listen which added a few extra minutes. Autosave is a welcome feature, but it has not been implemented as a separate function, the autosave is the first save slot, so any additional saves should be made in slot two onwards.

Ah, pea green, my favourite shade of office carpet.

Pretty custom graphics from the RPG Maker DS+ Resource Pack are used very well here conveying the uniformity inherent in most modern office buildings, but still adding a little individuality to the office worker’s cubes. This graphical style differs greatly to the one used for the ‘dungeon’ of the game, the internals of the network where the avatars of Mana and Clade battle against rogue programmes and viruses in an attempt to discover the true business of the corporation they are investigating and fulfill the contract of their clients.

Inside the server the visuals are more monochrome.

There are some unique game mechanics in this short game, however the developer has graciously included a set of in-game guides to outline the attributes, status and elemental effects and battle technicalities. They are simply laid out and easy to peruse and unlike an explanatory cut-scene or a series of dialogue boxes having them as items in your inventory means you can revisit them to ensure your tactics are working, or investigate why they are not.

Unique elemental attributes.

There are no levels in this game, at the end of each battle you get a score, which adds up for a final tally at the end of the game. You don’t gain stats or skills via levels, but in the use of the add-ons and weapons you equip. Strategy is the name of he game here, and it is done with a complex simplicity. It’s easy to understand and hard to get right, but that is half the fun. I spent a bit of time swapping out the various add-ons available to my two protagonists until I managed to hit upon a balance that seemed to give me a good overall technique. Though the boss battle did require a couple of battle attempts and a bit of tweaking before I could defeat it.

The battle system is side-view and technically it is turn based, but given some of the add-on’s you can equip are ‘instant’ use, you can buff yourself, de-buff the enemy and steal their stuff all before the first blow has landed. It makes for very strategic battles, the lists of things you can do before the battle commences is restricted only by the amount of SP and CP you have available, so use it wisely. In other words, steal stuff because you’re going to need every added boost you can get. Though CP is the TP equivalent and therefore cannot be replenished outside of battle.

Have I mentioned I really like the music? It’s used well in every scene, and really adds to the immersion factor of the game. There are no soft lullabies and gentle bucolic themes here, it’s gritty and modern and fast-paced, much like the game itself.

The game also includes a bestiary, though in this case, rogue programmes is the used and more apt name. Pay attention to the information provided via this option, trust me information is power in this game, and elemental weaknesses and strengths play a vital role in combat and ultimately success or failure.

Not giving anything away here.

I did not find a single, glitch, bug or error in the game and in fact my only true complaints are its length as I was just getting into it and it was over, and more tellingly the lack of background to the characters,
especially in the interaction with Sixalis in the room behind the puzzle.
The only reason I knew something of Mana and Clade’s back-story was that I read it on the game-page, which whilst helpful for me should be included within the game itself for a more rounded narrative experience.

This game has been submitted for the 2014 Indie Game Makers Contest. I have no idea what is up against and how well a short game will do, but I think it will give the others a run for their money. This game is well conceived and competently executed with interesting if not fully fleshed characters and game-play in a concise and pleasing package. I wish the developer well.

My final score after 24 battles.


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Hey thanks for taking the time to review my game nhubi!

I get what you mean about a lack of backstory in the game; I sprinkled little things here and there, but there really wasn't much place to dump a lot of backstory on people, as I feared it might get in the way of pace I had set for the game.

If I get anywhere in the contest I may just make this more than one episodic adventure; everything would be clear as the story kept going, since they stumbled upon the very corp they've been on the run from for about a year.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
No problem Arkecia, I did enjoy the game as it stands, and yes given its brevity a great deal of exposition would have been difficult without a clunky information dump, which should be avoided at all costs. I do hope, no matter your placement in the contest, that you expand this world. It would be fun to visit again.
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