I feel sympathy for anyone who paid the five dollar price tag for this piece of crap.
HACK_IT is a terrible excuse for a game. Even though I haven’t played other popular hacking sims of yore, such as Hacknet and Uplink, I still know that HACK_IT is nothing like those classics. The most it offers is a Newgrounds flash-esque click-fest and the occasional, frustrating mini-game, and that is sad.
The player starts as an anonymous hacker that meets up with an experienced one. It isn’t explained how they met, it just happens, and all the player does in the first 30 minutes is click “Next.” Eventually it starts giving out slightly more complex mini-games that require the player to memorize key patterns, and enter them into a console to type in exactly what the dialogue tells the player to type in. How exciting.
In case it wasn’t obvious already, this game is incredibly boring. With the side missions included, this painful experience lasts about an hour and twenty minutes. It feels like an eternity; even when spam clicking, there are screens that force the player to wait while a program loads or your computer boots up. The graphics are very simple, with bland single color backgrounds, and a VHS style GUI that is straining to the eyes, later made infinitely worse when a “virus” is uploaded to your computer, causing them to skew and “glitch.”
The game tries so hard to be “l337” that it fails at everyone turn: dialogue features emoticons, there are references to memes and other chunks of Internet culture, and even an entire folder of cat pics. At one point the game trolls you with a 20 minute goose chase that ends with the player catching “VirusMan,” who turns out to be the main hacker that the player interacts with.
To make matters worse, spelling errors are strewn throughout the game, but it’s hard to care when the dialogue is meaningless. The developer’s use of emoticons and cringe-worthy lines such as “no u wont lol”, makes the game’s advertised “Narrative Hacking Experience” a seriously unfunny joke. Hacker buzzwords like “script kiddies” and “keyboard warriors” only add to the obvious lack of understanding of actual hacking on the developer’s part.
It’s impossible to tell if HACK_IT is ironic, or if developer had no idea that it is as embarrassingly awkward as it turned out.
In an attempt to add some gameplay, the main protagonist’s “emotion” is displayed in simple terms such as “You feel excited.” I don’t think I even need to express how dumb that is. The emotion “feature” functions more like the player’s thoughts, with lines like “You have no idea what’s going on” helping the player understand that they are expected not to understand. That line turned out to be frighteningly accurate because at several points in this “Interactive Hacking Experience” I literally had no idea what was going on. From the introductory dream sequence that featured a “Don’t Touch the Wall” mini-game, to the “I like Blue” computer crash screens, the entire experience was disjointed.
Ultimately, HACK_IT offers none of the fun of the hacking sim genre, like the paranoia of being caught or realistic hacking puzzle elements. It feels insanely barebones, and the addition of a money mechanic felt halfhearted, as it doesn’t let you view your account, making the in-game choices about your money feel random and meaningless.
Despite it being fully released, this game is clearly not finished, features little to no actual gameplay, and has an absurd story. It’s intending to be cool or funny, but comes off as seriously lame and dated. Facebook messages feature more interesting and better written dialogue, and HACK_IT’s use of common internet tropes is a serious crime against nature.
Just for kicks, I checked the steam reviews once the game was released, which confirmed my expectations: the majority of players consider this game a cringe-worthy visual novel, with only a small percentage praising the game for its funny humor and art direction. The most I can hope for these few people is that they get the help they desperately need. .
This game clearly isn’t finished. Despite it being fully released, it has spelling errors, little to no actual gameplay, and an absurd story. It might have been intended to be cool or funny, but it comes off as seriously lame and dated. The dialogue is about the same as Facebook messages, with emoticons and the like. The game even tries to use XD un-ironically, a serious crime against nature.
Be warned: HACK_IT is a complete waste of time and energy. It isn’t worth the five dollars to play it, and I wouldn’t touch it even if it was free.