It’s nice to see a game which riffs on a classic game design, rather than simply ripping it off. Node.Hack is, essentially, a Pac-Man remix. But it’s a significant remix, one which is content to alter all but the most basic mechanics – so much so that to the casual observer it might appear to have no links at all.
And yet, those links are there. Like Pac-Man, this is a game about navigating a maze, consuming a set number of point-giving items and avoiding dangerous, randomly-directed enemies. Like Pac-Man, your character is viewed from above, relies on power-ups to ward off his enemies, and has tile-based movement which makes planning essential – no changing direction mid-move.
And, like Pac-Man, it’s an entertaining little game. Node.Hack’s presentation is immaculate – drawn using nothing more than simple abstract shapes, it conveys the ambience we expect from hacking – all neon vectors against a moody black background, supported by a simple but atmospheric soundtrack. Your movement is painfully slow, adding tension to the game, and as the levels progress it becomes all too easy to become overwhelmed, desperately trying to use the scant few weapons scattered across the levels to keep your enemies at bay.
Having to wait a few seconds to hack your target nodes makes things even more tense – especially when trying to get at the most valuable, slowest-to-fall nodes which are essential to your success in a level. Even on reaching your target goal you aren’t able to sit back and relax, as you’re given only 60 seconds to return to the central exit on the map, all the while avoiding enemies and routing around the now collapsing nodes – and trying to decide whether or not to take the risk and hack into bonus nodes on the way out. For such a simple, short game it provides a surprisingly exhilarating experience!
The game could really do with online leaderboards – the local high scores are nice, but it would be an even more compelling game if you could easily compare yourself to other players – and it does offer a fairly limited experience – fun as it is, there are only ten levels, and without others to challenge yourself against it will wear thin after a while. Still, at the ever-tempting price point of free, you’ve no reason not to enjoy it for what it is. Well worth a go.
Node.Hack Gameplay Video
Version Under Review : 22.214.171.124
Node.Hack is a FREE game for Windows Phone 7
Our Rating for Node.Hack