There is a lot to like about Hack n’ Slash. The game feels like a great Zelda clone at first, but once you get the ability not just to hack values but the actual code behind entities in the game, it all goes out of control like a flaming wreck. I’m not going to give the game a full review because I don’t think I can but I will list what I liked and what I didn’t like about this game.
First, I loved the presentation. The storybook artwork was delightful (and also felt entirely out of place in the more tech oriented hacking theme) and the music was fantastic, especially the 56k opera. I enjoyed the feel of the game, movement and value hacking felt natural. The game itself is short, which is somewhat understandable given the nature of the game. Most of all I love the heart of the story. Your character, your friend and the foe all felt like new takes on classic tropes.
However, I disliked the fact that mechanically, the game was all over the place. Time travel, hacking values, hacking code, inventory items that had little purpose. If there was a lot hidden in the game, I could forgive all these things as tools you need but after looking at what others had done, it’s all largely unneeded. I’m all for depth in a game but it felt like none of this added to the complexity, it only was more stuff. And the nature of hacking the code behind stuff was horrible, speaking as a coder. Everything should be largely safe for the player to fool around with but that wasn’t the case. If code needed to be changed, the game was expecting one specific value in most cases to fix it. A door with two joined words: “loc” and “ked” could be changed, but unless you made it “Free” and “dom”, the door wouldn’t unlock. This would be fine, except my first attempt was “un” and “locked” which didn’t work at all and instead ‘crashed’ the room, requiring me to restart.
The game isn’t bad, per se, but I think for a lot of people expecting a more code oriented style Shenzhen io might be a better fit.