A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hack 'n' Slash is a downloadable adventure in which you hack -- meaning program -- and modify the game while you play through it. There's no objectionable material in the game; in fact, users only have the option to poke other creatures with a USB stick to reprogram them. Though the subject matter is fine for kids, delving deeper into the game is likely to frustrate and confuse them as they navigate the titular hacking skills. It's a neat gimmick, but it and the overall lack of hand-holding could send the gameplay over their heads.
What's it about?
HACK 'N' SLASH is the story of Alice, a young female adventurer, and Bob, her fairy companion. The duo travels the countryside, trying to set things right in their land. When Alice's sword breaks, she finds it was hiding a USB dongle all along, which, when plugged into ports of things and creatures in her surroundings, grants her access to debug menus to change their behaviors. This greatly upsets the evil wizard Christof, who has been using the same ability to twist the world more to his evil liking. For instance, villagers were too afraid to venture out into the world, the lakes were polluted, and other general chaos swept the land (just as in other video games). Alice attempts to hack the land for good and undo the damage Christof has done.
Is it any good?
Hack 'n' Slash hinges on a very clever and very great (though frequently very frustrating) gimmick. The hacking/programming component is fun and inspired at first, but the further into the game you get, the murkier it becomes regarding what you can or should be doing -- or where you should be going. Even navigating the map itself can get frustrating; in one puzzle, you need to float on invisible platforms to flip two switches to help you complete a puzzle that's offscreen. Much of the game is like that one particular sequence: Some really neat things are at play, but the execution is undercooked and results in more frustration and confusion than likely was intended.
That said, tooling around in a game world that lets you actively mod it while you go is fascinating. It may be too much freedom ultimately, as you can actually end up crashing the game or your system (find a spawning point for turtles, and, if you like, produce so many your computer chugs and freezes). There's a lot of freedom here and a lot of creativity at play, but it's almost like you have too much freedom. For example, you will find creatures you can hack for no apparent reason and which are only there for set dressing. As a result, the world is full of a lot of red herrings. Hack 'n' Slash is worth hopping in and checking out but unlikely worthy of your attention all the whole way through.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows
- Price: $13.37
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Double Fine Productions
- Release date: May 6, 2014
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- ESRB rating: NR for No Description
- Last updated: August 24, 2016
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.