a portfolio of videogame writings
Like the green printed circuit boards that its level art evokes, Michael Brough’s 868-HACK is a work of precision engineering. Its clean cut lines and rigid structures are all visually and mechanically coherent, but there’s a baffling amount of complexity underpinning its design.
Outwardly, it’s a fairly simple game, playing like a mash up of Pac-Man and chess, with movement and combat taking place on 6 x 6 grid-based mazes. And it requires nothing more than a directional touchscreen swipe to control. But beneath this layer of accessibility pulses a fiendishly compelling, well-balanced set of algorithms – the addictive, mathematical heart of any good rougelike.
Permadeath, randomisation and a punishing difficulty all conspire to sour your grinning avatar’s expression, but as hard as 868-HACK can be, it’s rarely unfair.