Your fellow shadowrunners are busy learning more shaman spells, and your old hacking buddy went out on that space mission where surely nothing will go wrong, but you’re at home having a quiet night in with a hot cuppa and small army of programs compromising networks in Hacker. Hacker is a pretty quick and simple strategy game that replaces the typical fantasy orcs and elves (or orks and eldar, if you must) with software and bugs. There’s not much else to it, but for those looking for a quick tactical fix, you’ll get some joy from Hacker.
Hacker puts you as an anonymous eponymous hacker, who, for whatever reason, is busy at work compromising systems. You begin with a modest selection of apps, which you can then deploy in missions. Completing missions nets credits, which you can use to by more and better programs. For most of your programs, combining three copies will upgrade it to a better version, just like in real life (I knew buying three copies of Photoshop would pay off). At the beginning, credits are sparse, and the initial feeling of building your ‘army’ is quite rewarding. That said, the game is relatively short, not all programs can be upgraded and those that can, can only be upgraded once. This means it won’t take long until you’ve seen Hacker has to offer, but the game does at least introduce a few elements towards the end. Some levels start placing credit deposits which you can capture for extra credits, while some others levels require you to capture a data file – giving you the opportunity to decide whether to focus on wiping out all the enemies or to take a more indirect stealthy approach.
None the less, it’s over pretty quickly and may leave you wanting more, and having some of the elements expanded upon would’ve been lovely. It’s a free game, though, so I can’t really qualify that as a serious complaint.
Bonus note: The game was apparently inspired by an old flash game called Spybot: The Nightfall Incident (which is apparently a LEGO game.. LEGO and hacking? Why not!). So if you are craving more, you can try playing that here. Note: it requires Shockwave, which doesn’t seemed to be supported these days… So it may or may not be playable.