You never see people using 1337 any more, you know?

There’s gonna be mild spoilers in here ‘cos there’s something I have to talk about, so if you were already interested in HackNet (you should be!), skip the bolded sections.

HackNet purports to be a realistic hacking experience, and while I can’t speak to how true that is, it certainly feels authentic. It’s not your typical movie-syle vivid green text cascades and literal visual representations of firewalls- the entire game can be played through the command line (though it has some clickable shortcuts if you’re a script kiddie loser scrub).

Renowned hacker Bit has gone missing, presumed dead, and his failsafe system sends out a pre-written email… to your address. Contained within are some simple instructions and tutorials, and the first breadcrumbs to begin the search to find out what the heck happened to him.

Gameplay loop boils down to breaking through the security systems of a target PC, finding the files you’re looking for, deleting or making a copy of them, and then removing all trace of your presence. It was getting a little bit samey, but then…


…I got counter-hacked, and they deleted my OS, resulting in the BSOD seen above. The game reboots, but all of the GUI interface is gone. The music is gone. Sound effects, colours- everything is gone, reduced to nothing but a command line. And then, with no help, I had to put my OS back together, manually using the command line to hack a computer on the same network and download their version of it… which then looked and sounded completely different to the one I had been using. It was chilling, and very exciting to watch unfold.


Fin or Bin:

Knowing now what kind of loops HackNet is going to throw at me, I can’t wait to see what else it does further down the line. Games that play with the fourth wall in such a clever way are like chicken soup for my decades-jaded self. Yeah, we’re Finishing this one.

(Steam, also available in the Humble Trove)