I Just Discovered Hack 'n' Slash and I Love it

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I've been working to learn programming for a while. It's a slow process and has been really frustrating at many points. Learning to program may be difficult but it is such a powerful creative medium I think it's something everyone should learn, at least to some extent. There are tons of resources out there, from books and instructional videos to online courses like Harvard's CS50 (which I highly recommend). It wasn't until I came across Hack 'n' Slash that I'd thought about looking for a game centered on programming.

Hack 'n' Slash is an RPG from Double Fine, purveyors of the classic Psycohnauts and Costume Quest. It was created after it won the most votes from Amnesia Fortnight 2012, Built with Zelda-like atmosphere, players explore a world with their fairy (ish?) companion. There are monsters to fight, treasure to discover and a big bad evil guy to defeat. But that's where the similarities end.

Your primary weapon is a sword with a USB key in it. With this sword, you can "hack" into numerous objects in the game and change their code. For example, you can set an enemies health to 0, tell it how many hearts to drop when it dies or even make it friendly. Other items allow you to interrupt an objects code, or change loops used for some bridges and passageways in the game.

The really interesting thing is that none of it is smoke and mirrors. When you hack an object, you are changing its actual properties in the game. Later in the game, you have a great deal of freedom to change the rules of the world and can even break the game. In fact, if you aren't careful, you could end up corrupting your savegame. Luckily, in such an event Hack 'n' Slash has a tool that will help restore your save to a functioning state.

I like Hack 'n' Slash because it helps me see how all the context-less coding I've learned fits together in a program. Being able to fiddle with the elements that create the game is an incredibly useful tool. I'm still working my way through the game and its many interesting puzzles, but I hope to come back to the game again once I've learned more and see what I can get it to do. If you're interesting in coding or game development, I couldn't think of a better purchase to further your understanding of the medium.