Hack ‘n’ Slash is a puzzle action game about hacking -- reprogram object properties, hijack global variables, hack creature behavior, and even rewrite the game’s code. The only way to win is not to play...by the rules!
User reviews: Mixed (346 reviews)
Release Date: Sep 9, 2014

Sign in to add this item to your wishlist, follow it, or mark it as not interested

Buy Hack 'n' Slash

Packages that include this game

Buy Spacebase DF-9 + Hack 'n' Slash

Includes both games and their soundtracks!

 

Recommended By Curators

"Hack 'n' Slash mostly nails the new things it tries, but stumbles on the simple stuff, making it fun, but flawed."
Read the full review here.

Recent updates View all (7)

October 27, 2014

Price Drop and New Bundle Option!

Hey guys, as you may have noticed, Hack n Slash has a new lower price and bundle option to celebrate today's release of Spacebase DF9. It's fitting, as these games shared a journey from our community-voted Amnesia Fortnight game jam, to being funded by Indie Fund and friends, to becoming Steam Early Access titles, and now being finished games.

So if you haven't already grabbed Hack n Slash, you can now do so for the lower price of $13.37 or as a bundle with Spacebase DF9 and both games' soundtracks at $24.99. And as a token of our appreciation to those who supported these games early, anyone who already owns Hack n Slash will be getting a copy of Spacebase for free and vice versa. ENJOY!!

58 comments Read more

October 10, 2014

Hack n Slash wins Indiecade Grand Jury Award!

Woohoo, we just won the big Grand Jury award at Indiecade!! Thanks so much to you the community for helping make the game what it is today. It's a super weird one and the feedback and support you lent us during Early Access was key to the game's success. Hopefully this will help bring some more folks into the game and the world of programming and lead to more crazy mods in the workshop community!

0 comments Read more

About This Game

Hack ‘n’ Slash is a puzzle action game about hacking -- reprogram object properties, hijack global variables, hack creature behavior, and even rewrite the game’s code. The only way to win is not to play...by the rules!

The wizard has mandated that everyone confine themselves to the village, the castle armory has started to forge weapons so powerful that no one but guards are allowed to carry them, and anyone who attempts to find a sprite and demonstrate their bravery would face certain death. The new laws are for your own protection, but you don’t buy it. You’ll show everyone what “brave” means and, if you’re clever, maybe uncover the secret reasons why everything’s gone sideways.

Key Features:


  • Use in-game tools to hack the game while you’re playing it
    Your sword can hack the variables of objects. You find magic artifacts that allow you to tune global variables to your liking. Discover equipment that lets you see the game’s internal debug visualization to uncover things that weren’t meant to be seen.
  • Hack the code
    As you achieve advanced hacking mastery, you’ll be able to dive directly into the game’s assembly in the form of procedurally generated dungeons and modify the live-running code.
  • Make the game yours
    Puzzles have myriad solutions, many of which we haven’t anticipated. As you master the game’s hacking mechanics, you can mold and shape the game in whatever way you desire.
  • Crash it!
    You’re hacking the game for real! You can totally break it. Roll back in time to change the rules so the bugs don’t cause the world to fall apart, whether they’re yours or ours!

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP Service Pack 3
    • Processor: 1.7 GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260, ATI Radeon 4870 HD, Intel HD 3000, or equivalent card with at least 512 MB VRAM
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card
    • Additional Notes: Must have OpenGL 3 with GLSL version 1.3
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo at 2.2 GHz, AMD Athlon 64 2.2Ghz
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460, AMD Radeon HD 6850
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card
    • Additional Notes: Must have OpenGL 3 with GLSL version 1.3. Some users may need to disable Steam overlay.
    Minimum:
    • OS: Snow Leopard 10.6.8 or later
    • Processor: Intel Core Duo
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4850, NVIDIA GeForce GT 120, Intel HD 3000, or equivalent card with at least 512 MB VRAM
    • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Must have OpenGL 3 with GLSL version 1.3
    Recommended:
    • OS: Lion 10.7.X
    • Processor: Intel Core i series processor
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 6770, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460
    • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Compatible Sound Card
    • Additional Notes: Must have OpenGL 3 with GLSL version 1.3. Some users may need to disable Steam overlay.
    Minimum:
    • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
    • Processor: 1.7 GHz Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260, ATI Radeon 4870 HD, Intel HD 4000, or equivalent card with at least 512 MB VRAM
    • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Must have OpenGL 3 with GLSL version 1.3
    Recommended:
    • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS or higher
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo at 2.2 GHz, AMD Athlon 64 2.2Ghz
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460, AMD Radeon HD 6850
    • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Must have OpenGL 3 with GLSL version 1.3. Some users may need to disable Steam overlay.
Helpful customer reviews
1,051 of 1,238 people (85%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
9.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 29, 2014
Do not buy this game. This is not the programming game you want to buy. It is not worth the money, and it is not currently, by my standards, a finished puzzle game, much less one that teaches any reasonable amount of programming.

It is a beautiful idea for a game, and a very clever title for the idea. But this game does not live up to the beauty of its idea. If you must buy it, wait for the game that purports to teach programming to at least be itself adequately programmed. That is not the game that is available right now.

Hack 'n' Slash is a game in which you swing your USB sword to, instead of slaying things, set their hit points to 0. I can offer no higher praise for the integration of the "hacking" in the game for the first few minutes of gameplay. Instead of attacking the turtle, you hack its allegiance so it becomes your ally. Instead of finding the right order of blocks to push for a block pushing puzzle, you simply hack the number of remaining pushes allowed for one block. Reprogramming the movement of the guards was hilarious.

Then, just as quickly as the fun begins, the clever puzzle design disintegrates.

The coding is still painfully inaccessible and unserviceable—if you're a programmer, it's boring and tedious for no apparent reason, and if you're not a programmer, there's no chance you'll really even understand the puzzle as it's presented. As an experienced programmer, putting together the clues using detailed understanding of how programming generally works got me through the "programming puzzles", but left me painfully frustrated by how obtuse they were guaranteed to be for someone who didn't automatically know that "HackBlock 1" is probably the same in-game object as "blocks[1]". I see no reason to relate a red letter 'a' directly to a red diamond symbol other than educated guesswork. A game which requires trial and error is fine, but a game that requires too much backtracking between trials and crashes when you don't know what you're doing is not a game that encourages learning.

The most frustrating thing for me was when I immediately saw the solution the programmers intended, but also that there were far more obvious and trivial solutions. Let's take a hypothetical locked gate as an example: if instead of entering the prescribed password, you simply toggled some output value from "false" to "true," you might bypass the intended lesson entirely. Not only are the puzzles poorly thought out, they don't even enforce the intended lesson. I can't imagine anything other than inexperienced players blundering their way through the "puzzles."

The game crashes when the built-in LUA interpreter falls apart, because instead of being a sandboxed interpreter, the game runs code you throw at it natively, and I wouldn't be surprised if the game was a legitimate security vulnerability for getting admin access to the local machine. What's worse, the programming conventions used are distracting, if not outright confusing. The variables that are useful to hack aren't even always next to the lines of code they relate to, requiring mundane back calculation or walking around to find the right variable.

Imagine if a game that wasn't about programming presented these qualities: for instance, you found yourself in a hallway with five switches, and the purpose of the switches only marginally explained to you. There is absolutely no feedback to tell you what each switch does, unless you've solved the puzzle, or unknowingly triggered a fail state. What's worse, these fail states cause you to lose any forward progress made not only on the current 5-switch puzzle, but also the 3-switch puzzles that you've managed to solve in the same hallway. This is not what I consider a good puzzle game, but it is exactly the sort of scenario Hack 'n' Slash unforgivingly drops players into. Where traditional games undergo thorough testing to prevent the player from causing crashes, Hack 'n' Slash markets the total (and completely unnecessary) instability of the game as a feature. Can you imagine an point and click adventure game that crashed when you used the wrong item on the wrong target? How is this fun for the player? Why aren't they simply preventing unnecessary modifications, and adding iteration limits and variable scopes to prevent accidents? The puzzles are poorly designed, and just aren't fun.

And now for the rest of the game. As adventure games go, this game feels incomplete: shoddy collision detection make movement a confusing dance, total lack of information on what can and can't be done makes even thinking about solutions total guesswork.Traditional adventure games leave a trail of breadcrumbs to lead you along, and a useful assistant who makes sure the player is at least going in the right direction. Not so in this half-done game. Between acts the player is expected to know where they should romp for five minutes to get to the next destination, and while this could be "part of the puzzle" in some twisted logic the latter half of the game is a series of tedious activities: wander until you reach the next scripted destination, randomly permute code until success. Nothing is named in a useful fashion, nothing is provided, and the game gives you more ways to cause a crash than it does any meaningful direction towards a smart solution. There's invariably way too much information available as "clues," and the player has no idea what's useful and what's just there because the programmers thought it would be cool. I spend so much time wading through unnecessary details for reasons I don't understand to solve puzzles that aren't even intellectually challenging so much as they are a series of inside jokes. The final puzzles aren't so much arcane wizardry as they are exercises in variable tweaking, and there's not even any guide to explain which variables should really be tweaked to start with. Behaviors not explained before or after a particular puzzle are used and so players shouldn't even know to try the things the developers expect us to know.

As someone who actually studied computer science, incidentally, I'm disappointed by what the game refers to as algorithms. None of the implementations are meaningfully quantifiable algorithms. This is what most saddens me, to be honest: there are so many beautiful, challenging, and meaningful problems in computer science that programming games could explore and teach. Even the final chapter of the game, purported to be a legitimate programming challenge with actual security applications, boils down to a series of password reading tricks used earlier, or the mundane "wander, hack, permute" process. I was hoping to maybe see some binary search, or some loop iteration, or even just simple mathematics to inject actual challenge into the game, but instead found myself going through the exact motions I go through when debugging ugly, poorly written code. "If x ==y continue" tells me nothing about how many lines are actually part of the if statement, by the way. LUA probably wouldn't have been my first choice as a language for making the code readable to nonprogrammers. Might have been smarter to create a simpler, if still Turing complete domain specific version of LUA that doesn't throw unfamiliar terms like jump statements and closure operations. I'm saddened by the possibility that LUA was chosen not because it's a beautiful, educational language but because it made executing user code easy (and highly destructive and universe-collapsing). I spent more time shaking my head at the programming choices than solving the puzzles, and even more time wondering why Double Fine failed to even make the non-programming parts of the game enjoyable. It plays like a very promising alpha, which would be encouraging, if the game wasn't being marketed as a full release.

This is not a programming game. This is not a well-programmed game. And what's worse, this is not even a good game. I'd save your money if I were you.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
41 of 53 people (77%) found this review helpful
5.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 8, 2014
TL;DR ----
This game has a great concept and art style but ultimately fails to provide a good gameplay experience.

Great concept that works for the start of the game. Later on it devolves into messy visual rooms of code that are more difficult to understand than actual code. Useless for someone without an understanding of coding concepts and for anyone else too simple to break through.

The story is rather dull and lacks direction. A huge amount of my time spent in this game is simply wandering around the world trying to figure out where to go rather than actually solving any puzzles.

The art style is very attractive but gets ruined by an item picked up later in the game which puts a messy overlay over this.

This game could really have benefitted with additional content, more purpose made interesting puzzles, a well thought out driving story rather than a balled up handful of clichés. The concept provides a basis for a useful way to introduce people to the concepts of programming which they managed well to a certain point after which it feels they lost focus, gave up and stamped it as finished.

The concept is great hopefully future games will learn from this game and improve upon it and create something fun and educational.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
51 of 74 people (69%) found this review helpful
5.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 28, 2014
I really enjoyed this game up until act 4 where the hacking puzzles devolved into "code algorithm" which is by far the most confusing and frustrating part of the game to someone who has no understanding of programing. There was only one video on you tube that explained what to change to beat the puzzles, but since this video came out the developers have decided to change the second cavestash bridge puzzle setup so people like myself with no programming background can't just follow the walkthrough.

I spent 2 hours trying to figure out the puzzle I was stuck on to no avail, and another 2 hours trying to find a walkthrough for the updated puzzle. There was probably less than an hour left in the game once I got past this BS.

So if your thinking about buying this game and you arn't a programmer, be prepared to be frustrated with these last few programming math puzzles where they whole hacking aspect of the game takes a total nose dive as a personal F-you to the player.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
23 of 31 people (74%) found this review helpful
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: December 11, 2014
Right from the distorted growls of the intro screen, Hack 'n' Slash lets you know you're in for something a little different. Awakening in a dungeon, your character (who very much resembles Link) must find his way out. Meer moments after starting the game, the main weapon of the game appears..a usb sword.

Interacting with objects in this game is unlike any other game before it. Upon coming into contact with items, your weapon displays an interactive box. This box shows a dumbed down version of some machine language akin to Java, setting up all your battles for the game. This is a feature that I loved, but to be honest, is going to put a lot of people off if they don't understand code. It also, while original, makes for a very boring game.

Graphics

This game is without a doubt beautiful. While not quite cell-shaded, it personally reminds me of The Legend Of Zelda: Windwaker. Throughout the game you will encounter things that break the mold of it's pretty design, such as the toxic whirls of poliution near the factory. Amazingly animated, Hack 'n' Slash is one of the best looking games I've seen in quite some time

Gameplay

Besides the interesting addition of using code to fight creatures and move blocks, there isn't much in the game that hasn't already been done before. It's a top down game much like the original Zelda games. If you've played an RPG, you're overly familiar with the design. Interacting with enemies and objects via the usb sword quickly becomes tedious, as the code box that appears takes you out of the heat of the moment, leading to a very jarring experience that leaves the game feeling more broken than finished.

Story

You are a red headed Link. Awakening in a cell, you quickly get your sword and break out of the dungeon you've been being kept in with your sprite named Bob. After this, I couldn't honestly tell you the story because I can't figure out if there even is one.


Overall, I wanted to love this game. It's an original game (when it doesn't scream Zelda), but sometimes orginality just isn't enough. I quickly found myself losing interest in the title not because of the graphics or because I didn't want to find out the story, but because of the unique combat system. Every single item you interact with is code, and let's face it, code does not equal fun.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
17 of 23 people (74%) found this review helpful
5.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 26, 2014
This is an interesting puzzle game, but fails big for me in one aspect. Early in the game, I encountered a puzzle I could not solve, it was an easy solution, but my solution was not working. Finally, after using a walkthrough, I realized my solution was correct the first time. A bug in the game was not allowing my solution to work. I restarted and it worked.

The above problem occured several times during my playthrough. It is difficult to recommend a puzzle game when you cannot 'trust' the game. I ended up having to keep a walkthrough up through the entire playthrough, for fear that I would waste hours looking for a solution that I had already come up with, but would not work due to a bug. Should these problems be solved, this would be a good game. For now, I don't recommend.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
7 of 9 people (78%) found this review helpful
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 9
Disclaimer: My programming knowledge is almost zero, except for easy stuff like a bit of html, some BASIC from 20 years ago and some understanding of general programming logic. I've played the game until act 4, after a set of 3 easier puzzles that were quickly followed by puzzles incomprehensible to me, no matter how hard I tried.

Overview: Hack 'n' Slash is a puzzle game with a small share of action. The puzzles are all related to programming, starting with simple stuff anyone should be able to sort out, but rapidly escalating to puzzles that require solid programming knowledge. You control a girl with her sprite friend and they collect tools that help you with the hacking, while trying to ultimately defeat an evil wizard.

Pros:
  • Awesome concept
  • Cute graphics
  • Interesting puzzles (as far as I was able to solve them, anyway)
  • The puzzles starting in the act 4 seem great, too--even better, actually-- if you're able to understand them, that is
  • Funny characters and dialogues (but nothing special or memorable)
  • Probably a good programming training session (but I'm just guessing)

Cons:
  • Almost no tutorial when the hacking gets really hard--if they had taken their time to make a great tutorial, it would probably be playable by everyone, but it isn't
  • Requires solid programming knowledge and it really should be written in huge letters somewhere in the store page--since it's not, it feels like they're trying to fool people into buying a game they won't be able to play
  • Action part of the game is clumsy, boring, and totally unnecessary
  • Although there's controller support, it sucks--stick to your keyboard
  • Music is a bit annoying, even when you haven't reprogrammed the game speed

Bought on: I got it as a Christmas gift from Sweetheart Gamer! Thank you, despite everything. Sorry to rate a gift with thumbs down (again, but fair is fair). Well, if you care to know, it's been as cheap as US$ 4.54 (R$ 8,83) on Steam.

Verdict: If you can't program (lua, I guess), STAY AWAY! You won't learn it in this game. You might get through acts 2 and 3, but you'll be stuck on act 4, and I'm 100% sure of that. And starting a game you won't be able to complete without a guide is more frustrating than not even trying. Well, if you are familiar with programming, lua, and all that stuff, then you'll probably enjoy it, despite its other minor flaws. So it's a thumbs down for most people, thumbs up for a few others.

Similar games: If you ended up on this game while looking for something similar to the classic 2D Zelda, you should try Ittle Dew, for both Ittle Dew and Hack 'n' Slash have the same sense of humor, graphics have their similarities--only Ittle Dew doesn't require you to know how to program.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 4
The game was more annoying than fun. Maybe it gets better after more than one hour of gameplay, but I couldn't stand it. I've had enough of running around swinging my sword at rocks and editing the same attributes over and over again to make them pushable.
I've had enough of falling off turtles moving into the water even though I'm standing right in the middle of their shells.
And I'm fed up with bugs that made me unable to proceed, forcing me to use the map, which reset my progress on the current level.
Cheesy unskippable (?) fairtytale-ish dialogues between the hero and its sprite sure don't help the game either.

I'm extremely disappointed in this game especially since I am a fan of most works coming from Double Fine Productions. I understand how people may find entertainment in this piece, but it sure is not for me.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
36 of 66 people (55%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 5, 2014
I just finished playing "Hack 'n' Slash". And by "finished", I don't mean "completed the game"…

I got all the way to Act 4, or the "Tutorial", at which point the game expected me to modify increasingly complex graphical abstractions of Lua script. I am not a programer (not because I haven't ever tried), so this is the point where the game stopped being at all fun. I'm not saying that I couldn't possibly have figured it out and continued progressing, but…

I enjoyed what I played of this game, and don't regret purchasing it. However, I'm a bit disappointed that the game puts up such a brick wall, after what had been a fairly easy learning curve. I very quickly went from an "I am smart" feeling to a "this is the point where I fail to 'measure up'" feeling.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
18 of 32 people (56%) found this review helpful
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 18, 2014
A fantastic puzzle game from the wonderful Double Fine. You literally go into the game's coding to solve puzzles, which get progressively more complex as you get along. A fantastic concept which is wonderful at first, however later on the more complex puzzles aren't particularly well executed, as they are far too confusing to most people.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 18, 2014
Though the abhorrent trailer that involves a rap song about hacking might (quite reasonably so) scare you far away from this game, it's actually surprisingly fun to play.

It's basically Zelda, but with a game-breaking ability that allows you to change the programming of enemies, friends, rocks, and pretty much everything else. Don't expect a coherent title from start to finish, but you're well within the realms of reason to have a blast playing it.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
1.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 22, 2014
You might not get this game if you haven't been exposed to programming before.
However, it is really fun and unique with a great art style.

Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
12.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 22, 2014
So first off, I was almost hesitant to buy this because of the negative reviews. Let me just say- I'm glad I bought it anyway!

I really did thoroughly enjoy this game- perhaps it was because I had read a lot of disclaimers, and was waiting for "a letdown" but for me, such a letdown never occured.

I am a programmer (though I've never really delved into Lua specifically) so the obvious appeal of a "hacking game" was at the core of my reason for purchasing. I am typically a "whiner" when it comes to games (I set everything to easy, and try to "hack" around the difficulty if I decide that a game is too difficult) so this game was awesome, because it certainly encouarged the hacking!

For the first part of the game, I found the "hacking" of the entities kind of repetitive, and somewhat boring, but I pressed on. When I finally got to act 4 (where some many people start to see negatives)- I was extatic when I started to see real live code! Some have said it's not actual Lua source (I'm not sure- but it looks similar to source at any rate to me). I was really worried that it was going to be really difficult, but I found the puzzles intriguing. Some of the puzzles can be a bender (you start messing with something, and then you figure out the most obvious solution and it's like- "Gee, why didn't I see that in the first place?" lol).



tl;dr
Overall, I found the game highly enjoyable (low replay value, but that's not usually important to me in games- I conquer and move on). If you do any kind of intermediate coding (I HIGHLY stress that- you will need to have some kind of logic, math, or data structure training once you get to act 4) then you owe it to yourself to get this game and try it out!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
7.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 10
I'd have to say that the concept behind this game is unique and really awesome. However, like many other negative reviews, the execution is lacking. I'd still recommend it, because I know that pulling this game off is extremely hard, and the devs did not fail terribly at doing so. They didn't pull it off great, just fine, but it's not game-wrecking either.

Hack 'n' Slash has a certain sense of novelty before you buy it. I mean, you gotta change that boolean value to open the door! How cool is that?! But after a while, the more complex puzzles kinda ticks you off with it's complexity. People who have no prior background knowledge or experience with programming will find this game impossible to complete, and will leave it hanging in their game library.

The game is largely unguided, so you can actually run off and get yourself into the wrong room/place before completing a certain task, or getting a certain artifact. The game takes the difficulty up a few scary notches late into the story, notably within the castle. I'm no elite programmer by any standards, and I find that giving the entire library of source code in the castle is a little overwhelming. I also did get lost a few times within the game, not knowing if I should proceed this way or that.

All in all, I'd say it's a good challenge for those even with a strong programming background. I'd recommend this game, but only if you know some basic computer programming beforehand.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
5.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 28, 2014
This is a case of "good idea, bad execution".

The first half of the game is quite easy, while the second half will have a lot of players (programmer or not) turning to the walkthrough. Not least because there's no reference for the in-game programming language and it doesn't do much to ease you into it. Yes, there is a tutorial of sorts, but it's not very detailled and there's little progression of code-based puzzles before the final assault on the villain's castle, resulting in a massive jump in difficulty.

An in-universe book on the language for us to keep in our inventory would have been a huge help.

Another complaint is that of clunky interfaces. Modifying numerical values requires scrolling through them until you hit the one you want. Why not just let us type the desired value in?

The code-modification system is also very clunky. It's implemented as a sort of dungeon. It would be a lot easier and faster to use if we could just enter a text editor when viewing code and type new code.

Overall, it feels incomplete and needs work, but it's interesting nevertheless.

Only reccommended if you can get it really cheap or as part of a pack containing multiple other games you don't yet own.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
6.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 17, 2014
This game is brilliant, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a bit of puzzling, with some sneaky programming thrown in.

A really excellent learning curve, introducing new concepts in elegant ways, as well as harnessing the game mechanics in quite interesting ways.

Its not perfect; theres a few bugs here and there, and I had to resort to walkthroughs and forums occasionally, but often-times i was thinking too much and should have gone with a simpler approach.

A really great time playing this, and if you're a software nerd go get it now.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 9
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IjRioVLS6w

The modern game release cycle is a strange one. Sometimes I’m aware of games months or even years before their retail release. Other times a game will come out of nowhere and grab me instantly. Hack ‘n’ Slash from Double Fine is one of those games.

The first I heard of it was on Steam’s front page. I watched the trailer and was instantly hooked. On the surface Hack ‘n’ Slash appears to be a straight-forward Zelda clone, isometric adventure in a fantasy setting. I quickly realised it was a puzzle game in disguise, thanks to an ingenious central game mechanic: hacking.

Your character has the ability to hack into enemies and world objects, enabling you to modify gameplay behaviour and unit characteristics. You can alter how much damage enemies cause, change their idle routine, and even turn them from enemies into allies. This hacking changes the actual object variables in realtime and I was blown away by the concept.

I picked up the game on sale and sat down to play. My first playthrough I bounced off pretty hard. First of all the controls aren’t great. The joystick tends to travel a lot and I’ve died countless times because my character stayed in motion even after I took my thumb off the stick. As well, the starting area isn’t very intuitive and I found myself backtracking quite a bit. The hacking ability seemed largely restricted and I wasn’t having any fun.

This pattern repeated a few times as I tried to come back to the game. I knew there was something special with Hack ‘n’ Slash but I just wasn’t seeing it. Finally I gave it one last try and suddenly everything clicked. I saw the whole game open up in front of me and I realised how clever and innovative it really is.

Even beyond the USB sword your character uses to hack, the game has a number of cool mechanics that allow you to play with the rules of the world. You can slow down or speed up time, change the day/night cycling, and view the hidden paths around the world. The main thrust of gameplay involves using a variety of items to manipulate and maneuver the world.

I’m only a few hours into Hack ‘n’ Slash but the majority of that time’s been spent in exploration. Exploring the world, the game’s systems, and the methods you’re given to modify them.

I’ve still got some minor gripes, like the controller issues I mentioned before, and other occasional platforming problems, but there’s a lot to like in Hack ‘n’ Slash. Double Fine have developed a clever, playful, and self-referential title that pays homage to classic RPGs while bringing something new to the genre. Give Hack ‘n’ Slash a try and, if required, a second, third, and fourth try.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
15 of 28 people (54%) found this review helpful
11.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 29, 2014
I am going to cautiously recommend this game for programmers only.

While Hack 'n' Slash may appear to play like the old overhead Zelda games, it is a pure puzzle game. Direct attacks are impossible, there is no penalty for dieing, and you don't need fast reflexes.

I would give it a, perhaps generous, 7/10. I base this on averaging the 5/10 I would give it for non-programmers since they can only play the first half of the game, and 10/10 for programmers who may find it enjoyable.

Quite a bit of programming knowledge is assumed. Almost nothing is explained. At first, all you can do is alter the value of variables. Soon “if” statements and logical operators are introduced. The game spends quite a while at this level of sophistication, and an intelligent person that can read English can get by for the first half of the game.

Intelligence is not sufficient. Do you know what “function” (in the programming sense), “iteration”, “modulo”, and “closure” means? Do you know programmer catchphrases like “hack the planet” well enough to recognize them even when letters are missing and the words are rearranged? If not, you can't complete the last half of this game without a walkthrough. Playing with a walkthrough will be no fun, since there is nothing to the game other than solving the puzzles.

When the game does attempt to explain something, the explanations are often unhelpful, vague, and/or inaccurate. For example, the game hints that a closure is “when a function has a pet function”. That is unhelpful because it doesn't tell you what you can do with it, or 'what it's for'. Those features would help you use it to solve puzzles. It is vague because it neglects to mention that a closure is an anonymous function (a function without a name), and that it can contain references to the values of variables in the enclosing scopes of where it was created. Those features are why programmers care about closures. It's inaccurate because a closure can be returned by a function. It does not have to remain with the function that created it (that would be a nested function definition). If none of that made sense to you, that's fine. Just know that this game will not teach you to be a programmer.

It is perhaps for the best that the game does not teach programming, because the code you interact with appears to be produced by a Lua disassembler. There is no indention, and very little code structure. “goto” is heavily used. This does make the game challenging for programmers near the end, but it would teach bad practices.

For programmers the first half of the game will be far too easy. If you're creative you may be able to amuse yourself by solving the puzzles in roundabout or spectacular ways, but it is not required or rewarded.

Most programmers should find the last half of the game difficult, but mostly fair. Most of the difficulty comes from needing to debug (or carefully 'bug') code that is unfamiliar and poorly structured. This is a valuable skill.

The story is serviceable. Neither the plot nor the characters are very deep, but the ending is clever. I won't spoil it.

Some parts of the interface are very bad.

A minor, but constant, problem is overlapping text. This isn't just an eyesore. It's hard to find a particular book in a burning library when all the titles have other words printed over them. This could have been solved several ways. Text could be nudged the minimal distance from its centered position to avoid overlapping (the best solution I've come up with). Text could only appear when you mouseover something (likely a worse solution). Different colors could be used (probably the worst solution).

Source code (what a programmer writes to make a computer do things) is displayed two ways.

One view of the code is as mostly-text that should be familiar to most programmers. I say “mostly” text because there are colored diamonds scattered throughout. This form is used when you look at a 'signpost' for an algorithm before editing it. I had no problem with it.

The other view of the code is as a collection of machines connected with wires, with beams firing at them from colored diamonds. This form is used to make your changes to the code. It is, to put it bluntly, terrible. Each machine has some text on it. This text is so small as to be illegible. The machines are always arranged as a vertical line, causing the white lines indicating the control flow of the program to overlap, making it very difficult to understand. Even small amounts of code presented this way results in large rooms that make it almost impossible to get a sense of the overall structure of the code, and require a lot of time spent walking.

It's unfortunate that the text view wasn't used for everything.

The interface seems to have been designed with gamepads in mind. This makes editing the code slow and clumsy, and you occasionally have to type variable names and strings anyway. It would have been better if normal text editing had been used for everything.

The engine itself is fascinating. It appears to work by disassembling its own code, and letting you edit it while it runs. It's very resilient. If you make a mistake that would normally crash a program the game doesn't crash. You get a message about the world collapsing, and restart from the point where you entered the room as if you had died. This is even used in some traps late in the game. The code is version-controlled, and you can return to a previous version of it, at the cost of any progress (location change and items gained) you made since then, when you die or by using an item you get early on. That's nice if you mess things up too badly. It would have been nice to have buttons to view the original code for things, and the changes that were made (probably in unified diff format).

While this isn't the first programming game (RobotWars was released in the 1970's, and there may be older examples), it might be the first that shows how to get a non-programmer interested in programming. Editing the value of variables in the source code of BASIC games, and then proceeding to make more and more complex changes, are how I learned to program in the 1980's, and the way this game starts out. It's a pity that Hack 'n' Slash does such a poor job explaining things, and that the learning curve hits a brick wall so suddenly halfway through the game. Hopefully future games will use this as a model to improve upon, rather than as a sign that such games cannot work.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
9.0 hrs on record
Posted: January 28
Half-way through the game the tutorials and ease of play are thrown out of the window for heavy convoluted scripting puzzles, which you won't know how to complete without a decent understanding of programming/game design/and debuging.

The game developers didn't want to decide if they wanted to make a game for kiddies who have never coded (which started the game with gear that is akin to learning visual basic front-ends) or veterans who have an idea of what they doing (going super script heavy the last half of the game)

This indecision of how they wanted to make a game really hampered it. The first half was boring for me, but the second half really caught my interest as I hacked my way into areas I wasn't supposed to be going. But then again, after you get the super hacking powers the game gets vague on what you were doing.

This game is unfinished. It presents a security risk already demonstrated with the community workshop mods available for it. (opening up other programs on your comptuer) And feels like it was rushed to be finished in less than 2 months dseign and development time combined.

I would reccomend it to anybody who's up for a debugging challenge. I wouldn't reccomend it for people who haven't read a line of code before though. And I wouldn't reccomend downloading any of the workshop mods available for it.

I really wish this was something morethan what it is. But as of right now, it's just a proof of concept, and a reminder of what could have been.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 13
Nowhere near as entertaining as I would have expected, especially considering it came from Double Fine - I love the concept and art style, but it feels like an early access game: Hastily built with very little polish, and with gameplay decisions that really put the player on the back foot. I really did want to to like it, but I just can't recommend it in it's current state :( Might play again if they do some bug fixes, updates or dlc.

NOTE: Played it for close to 5 hours, but in offline mode on my laptop, so time wasn't tracked for some reason.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 11
I actually really enjoyed ~1 hour of this game, near the middle. Unfortunately, the first 2 hours of the game were a chore, and the last 2 hours were crazy buggy.

Ultimately, the buggy nature of the last hour of the game is why I do not recommend it. Perfectly fine and valid solutions to puzzles sometimes won't work until you restart the game. Heck, even redoing the exact same change sometimes won't have the same result. In a game about coding, that's a huge no-no.

I had a glitch at the end where I couldn't get into the epilogue, even though I hadn't edited anything that would affect it. I tried different things for literally half an hour. In the end, I restarted the game and somehow it worked. To add insult to injury, the ending was utterly unsatisfying, and left me feeling like I wasted my time.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny