2nd Take REVIEW: Hacknet

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

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Editor’s Note: 2nd Take Reviews are a new type of review we are trying out. Unlike Re-Reviews, which tackle a game previously reviewed on a brand new system, 2nd Take Reviews allow authors who didn’t get a chance to review them the first time the opportunity to do so.

oprainfall | Hacknet
Title Hacknet
Developer Team Fractal Alligator
Publisher Surprise Attack
Release Date August 12th, 2015
Genre Indie, Simulation, Hacking
Platform Steam (Windows, Linux, Mac)
Age Rating N/A
Official Website

A hacker named Bit has recently gone dark, and no one knows what happened to him. You’ve been given a copy of the work-in-progress Hacknet OS, and a message appears as it boots up. It ends with “My name is Bit, and if you’re reading this, I’m already dead.” Now it’s up to you to use your hacking skills to find out what really happened to him.

Hacknet is a simulation game about being a computer hacker. A lot of times, you are targeting people who are doing shady things. Some missions are neutral, like deleting a save file in an online game for a client. There are a few darker missions, too. One sees you hacking into a pacemaker, of all things!

Hacknet | Menu

The main menu screen.

After receiving Bit’s message, his pre-configured messages are auto-delivered to you. They provide a basic tutorial for the start of the game. This will get you going with the basics and give you a few starter missions. You are then given a link to Entropy, the first group you may join. Once you pass the entrance test, you are given access to their contracts server. There, you can choose from a list of missions to undertake.

For experienced players, there is also a way to skip the tutorial. Once you have access to the console on the right of the screen, type the ps command to get the process ID for the tutorial program. Then use the kill command to force it to close.

Hacknet | Bit's message.

Completing missions helps advance the story in Hacknet. Your path is not entirely linear though, as the story has a hidden branch in it. That section of the game contains some additional missions. In most portions of Hacknet, you have a list of available missions. You can only have one mission accepted at a time, and you must complete it before you can take another. Then you can choose another mission from those available. Sometimes you will gain new software tools, allowing you to do more things. For example, allowing you to crack a new type of port. You may also find new visual themes for your Hacknet OS.

Each mission involves an objective that will see you hacking into one or more systems to that end. Sometimes you just need to delete a file. Other missions see you crashing a system, or modifying data on it. You might need to download a file from a target system, and then upload it to a specified upload server for the client. You can also type the Scan command in the console to scan the target system for connected systems and devices. Sometimes you may find a file containing one or more IP addresses for additional system(s) you may need to hack to complete your mission.

Hacknet | Your Hacknet OS

Your Hacknet OS (Operating System)

As you can see in the screenshot above, the Hacknet OS has a relatively simple GUI. The X button at the top-left of the screen is how you exit the game. The gear icon beside it opens the settings screen. In addition, the floppy disk icon beside that is the save button. This will save your game and the green text “Session Saved” will scroll up from the bottom of the screen for a couple seconds to indicate that the game was saved. You may also notice the lone envelope button at the top-right of the screen. This is a shortcut to the JMail.com server. This button allows you quickly check your email without having to log in.

The right-most pane is the console. You can see the command prompt at the bottom of this area. It displays the IP address of the machine you’re currently connected to. Most commands will be run on the target machine rather than your machine. The panel with colored circles at the bottom-center of the screen is your network map. Each circle, or node, is a computer system you can hack. JMail.com is one of them. Lines indicate systems that are connected to each other. The green circle is your computer, and a red node on your network map is a system you are currently connected to, but have not hacked yet.

Hacknet | Hacking

Hacking a computer system.

More Hacking on Page 2 ->

About Michael Fontanini

Michael is a veteran gamer in my early 30s, who grew up around video games, with fond memories of the oldies like the NES and SNES. He loves Nintendo but also plays a lot of games on his PC. Michael also enjoys going for walks or bike rides, and loves animals.

Michael is also a computer programmer. This started with a toy he got as a kid called PreComputer 1000 that was made by V-Tech. It had a simple programming mode which is what started him down the road of being a programmer! Michael can program in BASIC, Visual Basic, C++, C#, and is familiar with Java and Lua Script.

Putting programming and gaming together, Michael became a hobbyist game developer which may give him some good insights on game development! Most recently, he has been playing with the free version of the Unity engine (a powerful and easy-to-use game engine).

I love Nintendo but I also play a lot of game's on PC, many of which are on steam. My favorite Nintendo game's include Zelda, Metroid, and Smash Bros to name a few. On PC I love the Half-Life games, as well as most all of the Source Engine games just to name a few.

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