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Hands-on: Hack ‘n’ Slash – Java vs. Wizards

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Hack ‘n’ Slash promises itself as a “puzzle action game” where instead of hacking your way through enemies, you are hacking variables of enemies and other objects with your USB sword. One might hack an enemy to attack its former allies, spin in a circle or simply hack its health to zero. As Double Fine says, “The only way to win is not to play…by the rules!” Radical, our interest has been gained. We feel less bad about playing this game instead of studying java, right? Just a sucker for a good excuse.

Hands-on written by Dallin

Hack 'n' Slash

Hack ‘n’ Slash starts out like Zelda or an old Final Fantasy game. You’re in a cave, you’ve got to get out and explore the world, using your newly acquired code-hacking weapon. If the Zelda feel wasn’t strong enough already, you even find a “fairy” friend. The similarities end there though, in Hack ‘n’ Slash, you won’t rely on your battle prowess. Sword in hand, you can hit just about anything with a USB drive on it. You learn how to hack rocks, bushes, enemies, control time and language before you can get to the “good stuff” towards the back half of the game. As with any adventure game though, things amp up. You’re left with the feeling of some old text based adventure games, trying to do things in the right order, deconstruct the solution of a complex puzzle you’re not even sure you have the knowledge set for. From a programming standpoint, it’s interesting. It really highlights how you can think out of the box with game mechanics. We had a lot of fun playing with the enemies, seeing if we could crash the game. We couldn’t help but compare it to Scribblenauts. You can defeat so many of the obstacles with the same solutions but it’s making your own fun along the way that enriches the experience.

Starting Hack ‘n’ Slash, we are left with the feeling that the story needs to take itself more seriously. The humor is alright but certainly not worth playing the game for and a little tiresome with the confusing game-play to back it up. It seems lazy more than witty and we want to get to the adventure. In hindsight, we were just expecting something else. Some points we thought made Hack ‘n’ Slash suffer, it seemed overwhelming at first. We would come across puzzle after puzzle with no idea of where to start or any idea if we could even finish something with the tool-set that had been given thus far. It moved fast too, hardly giving you time to get used to an idea before it has another for you. While this can be stressful at first, it’s still quite satisfying when you piece it all together.

Hack 'n' SlashHack 'n' Slash

Conclusion

All in all, Hack ‘n’ Slash makes you work for your win more than some might enjoy. The end challenge comes in coding puzzles rather than knives and bullets. Save often! Because sometimes your own actions can cause the need to load an old save. Assuming you can maneuver this smart sense of difficulty and all the game breaking bugs in your arsenal, Hack ‘n’ Slash feels like a satisfying challenge and maybe an introduction to the world of programming as well. If you like the game, why not keep learning?

It really depends on our player when grading Hack ‘n’ Slash but we were enthusiastic about it from the start and imperfections aside, we’re still enthusiastic about it now. Double Fine’s Hack ‘n’ Slash is worth playing; at very least as a look at the unique puzzle medium and at most as chance to finally look into game design.

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