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Studio: E. McNeill

Type: Strategy, Puzzle

Length: Long

Control: Tonchpad, Gaze

Darknet is a good example how VR can take a basic concept and make it into an experience that is immersive and easy to pick up. I did not expect the game to offer any story or directed goal, but I was quite surprised to find that they put quite an effort to build a cohesive world. The environment feels quite dynamic in a computerized world of Nodes an connections due to the polish the creator put into it. The one man studio is now working on a new game, Tactera, available as a Demo on the GearVR.

At first, you are greeted by a tutorial spoken by Jon St. John (the voice actor behin many game icons). You are drawn right away into the game’s pseudo story. The tutorial is well designed and will guide you throught the menus in no time. While you are given a background on what you are doing, the world’s lore is developing through a series of news articles relating the effects of your hacking on the real world. The more you read and the better you understand the world you live in. You can also access the power ups throught the main menu, allowing you to upgrade your hacking skills with BTC, the currency you earn by capturing systems.

 

The news will give you information on the real world, while you can also access to other informations within the main menu.

 

The game play is easy to pickup. You are hacking systems and to successfully achieve this, you have to gain control of the Root Node in the allowed time. To achieve control over a node, you will use programs : viruses, worms, hydras, and exploits . Nodes appears in different sizes and are protected by anti-virus, firewalls and shields. Capturing nodes gives you dollars that you can spend to buy additional programs. Strategy comes into play as you must plan which node to attack first. The nodes forms a web of connections between nodes and conquering one will weaken the nodes next to it. The creator made a good How to play video that covers everything right here : E. McNeil game play video.

 

Viruses are cumulative and used inside the nodes to capture them, the others are expendable and used directly on the system nodes

The neon, TRON style graphics might sound cliché, but it does work in the end. While they could have opted to implement complex graphics and a better use of 3D, the creator has put a lot of efforts polishing his minimalistic retro style. The small Data packets moving through nodes are not only pretty, they also mean something. The transitions animations are fluid and offers a great way to get drawn into immersion right from the start. With little to no forward/backwards movement, VR sickness is not likely to happen and should be comfortable for most people. [music]

 

Nodes are connected and protected. Capture the Root node to take over the system.

With randomly generated system and the difficulty curve you can follow, there is a lot to do in Darknet to unlock the Backbone Access. Systems that can take from 10 minutes to 30 minutes to complete (I haven’t got to the hardest systems yet) and the addition of a Save & Quit function, the game has everything to have you coming back again and again for a quick progression or a full system capture. Keep in mind that the gameplay mechanics don’t really evolve over time, the systems only gets more and more complicated. For some of you, the game might become redundant after a few systems.  The replay value of this game comes with the amount of things you can unlock with BTC, raising the difficulty and adding a few new features the most hardcore players will want to unlock.

 

 Inside the node, inject viruses to capture the node’s core without trigerring the antiviruses.
Darknet : Wake up the hacker in you
You should buy this game. It holds a lot of content and hidden secrets and offers an experience you can have seated, anywhere. The game sessions are as long as you'd like, a few minutes to hours. The game play is addictive, the mix of strategy and puzzle is good combination and should appeal even to younger audience.
Gameplay9
Graphics7
Sounds7
VR Design9
Value10
Pros
  • Unique Gameplay
  • Flexible play sessions
  • Long game
8.4Overall Score

About The Author

Following VR Industry since the 90's, I covered dozen of events and wrote hundreds of blog posts and news articles. Unfortunately, there's not enough of 24 hours in a day to check everything there is to see. That is my only regret.

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