868-HACK, the newest iPhone and iPad game from indie developer Michael Brough, is not nearly as difficult or abstract as the rest of the titles in the Brough canon. It is in fact an entirely accessible, straightforward strategy game.
But don’t get cocky. That’s the way everybody loses in 868-HACK.
In true Broughian fashion, the game doesn’t try to seduce you with glossy, cute characters or cartoonish animation. These graphics wouldn’t look out of place on an Atari — the coloring and pixel art is incredibly stark, yet it all meshes (clashes?) together in an oddly pleasing way.
The severity of the visuals suits the game well, somehow. 868-HACK’s tutorial lays thin groundwork for a story, wherein you’re a hacker stealing data from computer systems. Gamasutra editor-at-large Leigh Alexander illustrated the game’s vibe best, saying that the game made her feel like she’d “pried the black glass face off of the iPad itself to touch the glowing circuits within.”
Personally, I couldn’t care less about the premise, because from moment I hit “Start,” I’m terrified of making even one wrong move. This is not a game that forgives stupid decisions.