For decades now, the videogame industry has been fascinated with the concept of “hacking”. Often a case of pressing a single button to “hack this keypad”, but every now and then with attempts at actually simulating the practice without becoming too complex for those who aren’t actually hackers or IT professionals in real life. Darknet sits somewhere in the middle, glorifying the practice of hacking through a visual representation that is a bit Lawnmower Man-like – and of course only playable in Virtual Reality.
In Darknet, you’re a hacker who makes money (of the cryptocurrency variety, of course) by performing hacks. These aren’t performed using a keyboard – which would be terribly cumbersome on a Playstation – but rather by a virtual reality representation of nodes and interconnected puzzles with various levels of complexity. Tougher puzzles yield bigger rewards, smaller puzzles give you the credits to buy more ‘ammo’ in the shape of things like viruses and worms.
The basic puzzle concept is relatively straightforward – usually boiling down to figuring out where to unleash your virus in order to be successful at hacking a node (one of the mini-puzzles) to make some money. Hack enough and you can have a go at the main puzzle as well – but be wary of the time limit, because running out of time means that you won’t get paid at all.
Aside from the time limit, inventory management is another crucial strategic element of Darknet. Which tools do you buy? Do you save up or invest in order to quickly crack a few of the smaller nodes? When do you attempt the main puzzle? As the clock ticks away, these are the decisions that you’ll be required to make. This creates a layer of depth on top of the otherwise fairly simple dynamic of “hacking”, and it’s exactly the kind of “don’t get caught” rush you want in a game like this.
Visually, Darknet could probably have worked as a regular flat screen tv game as well – but the feeling of immersion is great for those who are fond of movies like The Lawnmower Man, where man actually enters cyberspace. They should definitely create a VR game based on that IP, but until then we’re happy that Darknet is available now.
We’ve read about people having tracking issues with Darknet, but didn’t run into any just yet. Perhaps this is due to the recent firmware updates for the PS4 and PSVR, or perhaps we’re just lucky. Regardless of that, Darknet is a fun puzzle game with a hefty dose of resource management included to make for a richer experience. If you enjoy a sci-fi/hacking angle to your puzzle games, then Darknet is a solid choice for VR owners.