Hack ‘n’ Slash is a game developed by Double Fine Productions. This action-adventure game, prototyped during Double Fine’s Amnesia Fortnight 2012, bears a similarity to games like The Legend of Zelda, Secret of Mana and Bastion.
Some context on Amnesia Fortnight 2012: it was a public prototyping session by Double Fine, with its resulting games being bundled in collaboration with the people at Humble Bundle. How it worked? Everybody who paid at least $1 had the chance to vote on 23 game ideas, and after the voting period, Double Fine would develop the top five voted ideas into game prototypes that, once completed, would become available to those who purchased the Bundle.
Hack ‘n’ Slash was the prototype that got the most votes. Other winners of Amnesia Fortnight 2012 were Spacebase DF-9, The White Birch, Autonomous and Black Lake.
Hack ‘n’ Slash
The gameplay is amazing. Despite the name, this is not your typical hack ‘n’ slash, Zelda-like game. Well, you do hack, but in the computer sense of the word. You have an amazing ‘USB sword’ that you use to reprogram the world around you, from bushes to rocks, from enemies to allies, and even yourself.
And it works great, because the game has a lot of puzzles that will make you consider these mechanics — for example, in order to move a rock, you have to program how many tiles it will move, how fast, how long a delay there will be between movements, the amount of times it will move with each push, and so on.
Hacking enemies can turn them into allies, or change how much health they have left, the damage they deal, and many, many more things.
And that’s just the tip of it. As you progress throughout the game, objects will have increasingly complex variables to change. The game barely gives you any tutorials to explain all this, and when it does, it’s mixed into funny comments, and it’s ultimately terrible. But it doesn’t matter, as experimenting with everything is fun, although, as the game gets more and more complex, the game can get quite difficult and annoying if you’re not someone who’s into programming.
Oh, and you will probably crash the game lots of times, too. Yeah, you can screw up the game by over-hacking it.
Besides the sword, you’ll find a lot of tools that change different variables in the game, such as an artifact that lets you change the speed of the day-night cycle, a hat that will allow you to see objects that were previously hidden (kinda like the Matrix), and another one that will let you change the speed of the game (invaluable when it comes to dodging things.)
The story revolves around a red-haired girl (with a name of your choosing) and her fellow sprite, both of them on a quest to defeat the evil wizard that threatens the kingdom. It’s a simple concept, but everything is done in the usual Double Fine style of humour, and you’ll find lots of Easter eggs about movies and other games, and above all, programmer humor.
Graphics and Music
Characters and environments are designed in 2D, and are accomplished through a cartoonish look clearly meant to remind people of The Legend of Zelda — heck, the main character even looks an awful lot like Link.
The music blends really well with the style. It’s mostly chiptunes, with some variations of a same chiptune track, but it still blends into each environment well, and will probably linger in your ears for a long time too, because it’s great.
If there is one thing I really didn’t like design-wise, it’s the levels. They are too repetitive, and each new one doesn’t bring to the table anything you haven’t seen before.
Hack ‘n’ Slash is a great game to fool around with, and you will enjoy it a lot if you are into programming — but if not, it will get tough, as some later parts are extremely hard, due to a lack of tutorials or tips on how to progress through some types of puzzles. Sadly, the game isn’t very long (with only 5 acts) and contains no replay value whatsoever.