When it comes to hacking, nearly all forms of media have made the idea of it sound incredibly fun. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be an undercover agent of some sorts set with breaking into the “mainframe” of a corporation or entity in order to gather secrets? Sadly, when it comes to video games, the idea of hacking is often more exciting than the action of it. Games like “Watch Dogs” or “Bioshock” have reduced moments of “hacking” to simply solving an easy puzzle before moving on.
This is where Darknet, a hacking puzzle game for the PlayStation 4, comes in. Fully focusing on the idea of hacking, the game puts players right into the shoes of a hacker as they go about stealing money, information, and all sorts of goodies from various networks. The action of hacking starts off easy enough; each “grid” is set up in a honeycomb-esque structure, and you kickstart the hacking process by infecting a node with the virus. From there, the virus slowly creeps along the grid until it lands on the core. Standing in the way of that, however, are antiviral nodes that, when hit, put a stop to any hacking you may be doing.
A successful hack nets the player money to be used to increase your arsenal of hacking tools. These range from extra viruses to deploy at the start of a hack to various other exploits that will help your efforts in hacking. As the game progresses, hacking slowly becomes a bit easier thanks to this, though players can choose to change the difficulty of each mission before they play it, leaving it up to them as to whether or not a particular mission is a challenge or not and resulting in many moments where you’ll be battling against the clock in order to hack something. These brief moments really make you feel like you’re in a life or death situation, and if players are up for it, I’d highly recommend upping the difficulty in most of the missions.
When it comes to great puzzle games, I often gravitate to ones that allow users to reach the end through various means. In Darknet, it feels like most of the puzzles within the game had no true wrong answers. As you go through the game and gather resources and tools, you can figure out how to make it through a network at not only your own pace but with your own strategy. This is a nice change of pace when it comes to recent puzzle games, and because of the ability to figure out a multitude of things, it never makes one feel like they’re stuck.
While Darknet can be played without it, the game also comes with support for PlayStation’s VR accessory, PSVR. While the VR in Darknet won’t “wow” you as soon as you put it on, it does do a good job of enhancing some aspects of the game. Players can get an up-close look at the inside of the networks they’re hacking, giving you a better plan of action as you go about hacking. Sadly, hacking takes place in a 360-degree area, so if you’re planning on sitting down and enjoying some virtual reality hacking, you might want to rethink things.
If your PSVR setup is prone to tracking errors, you might also see your fair share while playing this. Oftentimes, the game wouldn’t know which way I was looking, and while this isn’t the games fault, it’s still something impeded my time playing. One of the main problems I had in my time with the VR mode was the games consistent issue of locking onto whatever direction I was looking at, which tampered with my ability to shift to various viewpoints while hacking.
With the PSVR still severely lacking in games that will blow you away, Darknet is genuinely one of the best games available for the device. Filled with challenging puzzles, the game is a great title that you can pick up and play at any time, and acts as a good stopgap for what the future of PSVR may hold.
This review is based on a digital copy of Darknet for the PlayStation 4 provided by Sony.