The Nintendo Entertainment System has had a momentous impact on a generation of creatives. Titles such as Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda inspired comics, stories, and programming triumphs for decades now, since they arrived at the screen in the mid-eighties. The video game worlds of today owe a great deal to the imagination and the coding perseverance of the early frontier days of home console gaming. Double Fine for their Amnesia Fortnight created a title that paid tribute to the games like The Legend of Zelda and the very source code that makes such achievements possible.
The heart of this title is its gameplay and Hack n’ Slash’s gameplay is the concept that you can edit the programmed rules of the game with “artefacts” found in the world. Is an enemy harassing a friend? With a couple of button presses, you can make that enemy your friend, or harmless or any combination. Do you need to wait 50000 in-game days to receive a vital item? Simply speed up the day/night cycle by 10000%. The bending of the mechanics of the world to solve puzzles has been done before in games like Portal. But it feels refreshing and almost god-like to edit the code itself to give you an advantage, like using a cheat code in days gone by.
There are in-jokes are aplenty in the mythical fantasy world, if you are familiar with the Legend of Zelda and the intricacies of setting programming variables, you’re in for a treat. The visual homages go a long way to underline how much of a novel twist the gameplay is, while still retaining the charm of Double Fine’s previous games. Visual glitches are a staple of the land as the player wreaks havoc on the fabric of this simple land’s reality.
Hack ‘n’ Slash is the perfect marriage of those charming 16-bit adventure Role-Playing games and the recent trend of programming puzzle games. It remains a love letter for both, breathing new life into established concepts that not may seem the most likely candidates for an upgrade. Along with its contemporaries in the Amnesia Fortnight program shows a concept worthy of expansion. I suppose with games like this you could rightfully assume that if Double Fine didn’t come up with them, somebody else would. But with a fascination with programming that Hack ‘n’ Slash manages to instil in the player, we’re likely to see more coding achievements in the future.
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