This time home, I did some more digging around for good games that fly under my radar. I’ve come across a few gems, but Hacknet has really surprised me. I found it on Steam under the Specials tab, and picked up the main game and the Labryinths DLC for right at $10. I didn’t watch any videos about it, I read a handful of reviews on Steam, and just took a leap of faith.

I’m honestly surprised by just how fun this game was. Initially, it can be confusing. Several times I found myself wondering how to do certain things, and other times completely lost as to the next step before eventually finding my way. I even came across game-breaking bugs, or even quests that would prevent me from advancing the main quest if I completed the side quest first. One was so bad, I actually had to restart on a new save, thanks to the side quest killing the main quest. I don’t know if it was a bug, or intentional, but I had to make an entirely new save. I’ll go back and try to figure out the next step, because apparently, it’s fixable.

So, what is Hacknet? You, a hacker, are contacted by a mysterious elite hacker that you later find out has gone dark for 2 weeks. The email you receive claims that the hacker is already dead, and they apparently want you to find the party responsible and avenge them. This is all done through “nodes,” or other PCs connected through networks, mobile devices, or even by obtaining IP addresses through various means. Some IPs are found in the filesystems of hacked nodes, others are emailed to you, and even more are found in decrypted headers of random files. This isn’t a point-click adventure, so much as type in commands (in a terminal interface, as seen in the pictures) and click through various nodes and filesystems.

Terminal window: top right, Network: bottom right, UI: center, Tasks: left

As seen above, I’m connected to my own in-game PC. It looks rather boring, and is on the surface. As the caption says, you have running tasks (left,) UI (center,) terminal (top-right,) and network with discovered nodes (bottom-right.) This is the only interface with the game, so no people or walking around. Just a basic interface, where you can type in commands, and click your way through various menus and challenges.

Available tools that allow you to hack your way through the game.

SSHCrack for opening SSH ports. FTPBounce for FTP ports. You get the idea. eosDeviceScanner scans nodes you’ve hacked for eOS devices on the network. You don’t need to hack eOS devices, the login username “admin” and password “alpine” are all you need to gain access. If you recognize the Apple “alpine” password, then you’ll notice the Easter egg. Additionally, there’s a folder named zer0cool in one the first PCs you hack, which is a nice reference to a childhood hacker in the movie Hackers from 1995, starring Angeline Jolie and Matthew Lillard, among others. If you haven’t watched it, give it a go. It may not be the best movie, but it’s one of the favorites, for whatever reason.

I could go into a description of the uses of each tool, but the game does a decent job of telling you what you need, and where you’ll find it in-game. The only thing I didn’t waste time downloading was the Clock.exe file, as it’s just a simple clock and you can’t do much with it. Anyhow, the terminal actually features so pretty in-depth stuff, such as moving files, renaming files, deleting files, downloading/uploading files, and other things. If you finish the main story, and the DLC, you can venture in to the Steam workshop and find some player-made addons. These add various things to the mix, usually custom contracts that bring you more fun and enjoyment.

I’ve yet to start the DLC yet, but while I’m waiting on Anthem to download, I’ll be tackling that chunk of story. Overall, the vanilla game yielded 4-5 hours of gameplay, and the DLC is supposed to add another 3-4 hours. I’ll update this post once I’ve finished it.