For me, mainstream hacking games usually fall into one of three categories – they’re short, unnecessarily complicated or actually have little or nothing to do with hacking. This is a field that absolutely fascinates me and as I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life rotting in a government facility somewhere a good sim would be nice. Up until now, the only genuinely fun hacking game I’ve come across other that Darknet, (which falls into the not really hacking camp,) is Uplink. The problem with Uplink, though, is that one slip up and you’re going back to the start and when you’ve spent hours if not days on one run this is soul destroying. As you’ve probably gathered I’ve come up with a new hacking game that actually involves hacking and is absolutely brilliant. This little marvel is called NITE Team 4 and I’m going to tell you everything I know about it thus far.
So I’ve been immensely lucky to be invited into the NITE Team 4 closed beta. It’s lovely to see a game growing and developing right from it’s earliest playable stages. I really must stress the word “beta.” This title hasn’t even had a sniff of Early Access yet. The experience may well have changed by the time you get to see the game, though I genuinely can’t see how this could happen for the worse and as it’s a true beta I can only tell you about what I’ve seen and played so don’t get snippy if some of my information is a bit sketchy.
In NITE Team 4, you take the role of a mercenary hacker. In the campaign you join a war theater and then go about completing missions for whichever government has hired you. The two operations that are present at the moment involve a somewhat dodgy senator who appears to be selling arms to people he shouldn’t be and an eco-terrorist group. Each theater has a string of missions attached to it and completing them unlocks the next part of the story.
This is your mission hub. Different theatres are present here.
To give you something different to do you have the Hivemind Network. This is a bit more complicated to explain, it’s also set for those experienced with the game and it’s hard. The Hivemind involves a series of hackable nodes which to my understanding are connected. Generally you won’t get all of the information you need from one of these to actually completely hack it. So far I’ve managed to break one and found a hidden information dealer. I’m in the process of juggling three different nodes now just to break one of them and although complicated it’s proving a gigantic amount of fun.
This isn’t just a single player experience. You can join a team of friends in an attempt to solve the game’s intricate puzzles. This also leads to the last and possibly most interesting part of the game. There are bigger puzzles hidden in files that you collect as you go. From my understanding these require real life net searches to solve and are generally designed for the community over the single player. I can’t speak for this yet as I haven’t gotten that far but my it’s all very intriguing stuff. The idea of being able to go beyond the limits of the game makes the whole experience so much bigger and of course extends the play-ability of the title by a pretty large amount.
Just one of your many tools. This guy is going to be one of your best friends.
You take control of the Stinger OS, an operating system full of hacking tools and other useful files that allow you to go about your job. You are then tasked with using these tools to complete some of the challenges I mentioned earlier. The thing about this is you aren’t given a great deal of information on exactly what you need to do. This is a game where you actually have to use your brain. You might, for instance be asked to hack into a phone. This is easier said than done as your target might be encrypted and unfindable. What you might need to do is find a wifi signal that’s been used by the device, hack into that, then into a vulnerable phone linked to your target and only then onto your actual goal. This takes time and a process of elimination that I really love.
This might all only be one relatively small step into solving a bigger problem. It’s so nice not to be given everything on a plate at the start and just asked to rely on your own skill to complete the task set before you. This same process applies to many parts of the game. Whether you’re hacking a website, locating an individual or getting a password everything comes in a series of logical steps. The thing is, a lot of this is only logical when you’ve figured it out. I think I’ve lost count of the number of facepalm moments I’ve had with this game.
The interface is as it should be. We’re hacking, not just pressing a series of buttons.
The interface you’re using is ultra realistic. In fact, a lot of what you encounter has been based on real life scenarios and this does wonders for NITE Team 4 as a whole. This is a game that feels real and this is really important to making the experience work. This extends to the way you play. You run searches and activate programs by typing commands, not pushing a button and watching the game do all the work for you. You have to be accurate as much as a little bit smart but I think that this is sort of the core of hacking. I actually ended up with a pen and paper making a lot of notes. What modern games see you writing an essay just to get through a puzzle? This is a really old school way of doing things and it’s more than welcome. I remember the days when you sat and drew maps, you don’t need to do that anymore now do you?
As you can see I only have good things to say about this game thus far. My negatives are not in the experience so let’s call them a series of warnings. First off, this is not a game for the impatient, if you want a game that gives you everything on a plate I’d genuinely look elsewhere. Next up. NITE TEAM 4 takes time. If you are a gamer that only picks up and plays in short bursts then I’m not sure you’ll get the most out of this experience. I lost three full evenings of my life and I’m far from cross about it, but I had three full evenings to lose, you might not. The last thing I’d say is that if you’re easily frustrated you might not have as much fun either. Everything about this title is trial and error and this is hampered by the need to type accurately. If you’re literally a keystroke wrong in telling one of your tools to do something it will perform the wrong task or not start at all. I found myself doing things over and over just down to my own silly typos. It’s annoying but as we’re coming back to realism it’s something that needs to be present in the game.
The Hivemind. You have to find the nodes before you can hack them. It’s all about triangulation.
If you don’t count as any of the above and you, like me, want to play a hacking game that actually works, this is definitely something to watch out for. I’m going to go back and complete everything I possibly can. I’m also going to be following all the progress of NITE Team 4 so definitely expect to see more on this in the coming months. Not only do I genuinely love this title but I want to see it do well, plus the mystery that is present in everything you do in the game is palpable and keeps drawing me back. I’m running out of nice things to say now so I’m going to go and log back in to my OS and lose another week of my life. I’ve also just realized I’ve gotten through this entire piece without one of my awful puns. This game is hack-tastic. There. Much better.
This preview is based on a beta build of the game provided by the publisher.