Ever wanted to be a hacker, taking down networks and exposing the nefarious activities of giant corporations but simply lack the skill, ambition or equipment? Hack RUN ($2.99) will probably appeal to you.
A text adventure, Hack RUN is a one of a kind game that uses your iDevice’s keyboard for input and requires you actually pay attention to that which you’re reading. The virtual hacking fun isn’t limited to iOS, you can play Hack RUN on Android, Mac and as a Facebook app in your browser.
Who’s It For, Really?
There’s obviously quite a considerable difference between pretending you’re a hacker and actually gaining access to servers not meant for your eyes. That said, Hack RUN does blur the lines a bit as this isn’t your usual mobile game. As this is probably best described as a “hacking simulator” or “text adventure” and you’ll be doing a lot of what “hackers” do – namely typing commands into a command line interface like it’s 1983.
This is only going to have limited appeal to some gamers, as typing text commands into touchscreen keyboard isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. That said, Hack RUN is a very rewarding game with a strong narrative that leaks enough juicy information during play to keep you entertained for hours. The experience is a bit like a book in that you’ll be reading a lot of other people’s documents, email and scouring websites to uncover the plot buried beneath. If you enjoyed Uplink, you’ll enjoy Hack RUN.
And what a plot it is! In the beginning you’re simply approached by an individual known as “Your Employer” who has enlisted your help in hacking a particular network. From your terminal you must begin your journey deep into the company’s private networks, using a variety of text commands and your grey matter.
As you begin to probe at the mystery that’s set to be unravelled in front of you, you’ll learn a few things about the company whose servers you’re plundering for information. It’s a little bit “conspiracy theory”, with the company taking on the role of a large pharmaceutical firm accused of working with some less-than-reputable wholesalers. You will discover this and more information as you raid employee email accounts and browse the “web” (these “websites” are all stored locally, meaning you can play the game without a connection).
Text-Based Touchscreen Gaming
Around 90% of Hack RUN’s gameplay involves short commands being typed into a faux computer terminal, and for this reason the game works better on a larger touchscreen device (such as the iPad) or desktop. Luckily, the experience isn’t actually that difficult on a smaller screen thanks to the easy-to-type commands. These include staples like “ls” for listing directory contents and “mail” to launch the current user’s mail client.
These commands can also be used simply by typing the first letter, which makes playing on an iPhone considerably easier. Much of your work will involve revealing clues and deciphering the passwords therein, a task that’s really easy to begin with. Each time you gain another credential (usually a password, or access to a new hacking routine) you’ll advance a level, of which there are 50 to master.
Each level you advance is saved, so you don’t have to start from the beginning every time. Every time you discover a new password, it appears under the System Status option in the main menu (accessible any time using the “X” in the top right corner of your terminal). If you become stuck at any point you can type “hint” and you will be given a nudge to get you moving in the right direction. If things are looking really grim, then the “answer” command helps open the door.
And that’s pretty much all there is to Hack RUN without spoiling the story. It’s handy to be able to “cheat” if you really need it, this is a game after all. Hack RUN might not be the usual “pick up and play” mobile blast, and that’s because it isn’t. Sit down as if you were reading a good book and wallow in Hack RUN’s simple-yet-gripping charm.
Download: Hack RUN ($2.99)
Have you played Hack RUN? What did you think? Let us know in the comments, below.