The Innernette On One CD-Rom
I love a good hacking game, especially because I know more than the average person about hacking. I’m not saying I’m some cool blackhat taking down shadow governments or anything, but I’d say I have more experience than your average ‘script kiddie’.
That being said, Mainlining is a hacking game with little to do with actual hacking. If you think pinging a fake URL, gathering documents from a file list, and collecting information is hacking, you’re wrong.
Mainlining plays out in a faux operating system known as Rainbow, which looks a whole lot like Windows XP running at an extremely low resolution, which makes the font blocky and annoying to read. You work for the government (I think?) taking down cyber criminals via little more than doxxing them.
While the game is presented as hacking, you’re actually doing nothing more than scraping websites for publicly available files and following the trail of information provided that the game wants you to follow. Instead of actually hacking you’re essentially doing very basic command line commands like pinging a website to get its IP address, then browsing that site’s directory to find files. These files will breadcrumb you along to other websites, logins, or incriminating evidence.
Once evidence is collected, you’re required to name the person responsible, where they live and provide one piece of evidence proving they broke the law. The problem being sometimes you have multiple pieces of evidence that would be considered incriminating but the game only accepts one specific piece; of which it isn’t always exactly clear as to which one that is. As you aren’t penalized for attempting to arrest the wrong person or providing the wrong evidence, I found myself not being careful and at times rapid firing what I had till the game accepted it.
I could forgive the lack of hacking in this if the game were actually fun or entertaining. I realize it is an adventure game, which can be kind of slow and just a series of collecting information while being breadcrumbed along, but this is just dull. I couldn’t bare to play more than a couple of episodes before I gave up. The most exciting thing that happened was I got to drag a window around a mock Google maps to follow a criminal. Maybe that sounds thrilling to you, but it certainly wasn’t to me.
“Mainlining is a hacking game with little to do with actual hacking”
If you’re on the fence about Mainlining I implore you to try the free demo of the first two cases, as that is about as much as I could stomach before I gave up on it. It is neither an entertaining adventure game nor is it a hacking game, regardless of what it tries to tell you. It also tries to be funny, though most of its humor is the referential kind like ‘that is named similar to something else I know in real life, ha ha’ which is so tired at this point, but not as tired as I am after playing this game.
If you want an adventure game that has hacking that feels a lot more realistic and is an all around better game, then check out Quadrilateral Cowboy. It is very, very good.