“No technology that’s connected to the internet is unhackable.” – Abhijit Naska
Developer: Limited Games
Releases: 31st August 2020
Available on: Steam
Greyhat is a hacking sim, puzzle game, point-and-click adventure and a thrilling narrative experience all bundled into one game that plays out entirely on a computer desktop. The player takes on the role of themselves, an infamous and highly skilled hacker-for-hire, completing job after job until accidentally crossing some powerful and dangerous people who take their revenge by kidnapping the hacker’s daughter, Emily.
Whether searching directly for information about the missing child or to appease a blackmailer claiming to know things, Greyhat consists mainly of hacking into other people’s computers. The player must look through their files, read their target’s emails, mess with their software, and meet specific objectives such as locate and copy evidence that a new medicine is unsafe. These sections are fun, and each provides challenging puzzles in a fairly leisurely way for the most part. There are also a number of mini-games to uncover such as a maths-based zombie FPS!
However, in order to obtain access to the target’s computer the player must first do some ‘tunnelling’ which consists of pressing different section of the keyboard accurately and at speed to remove text whilst also having to stop sporadically to type decrypted words. Progress depletes whilst typing words, in moments of inaction or when making a mistake resulting in a somewhat frustrating test of reactions and speed-typing.
The default normal difficulty for these sections would provide an unfair challenge to all but the fastest touch-typists (I watched my progress deplete back to 0%, again, at 709 seconds) but the difficulty drops dramatically on the easier setting providing very little challenge at all.
Narrative and Styling
Set entirely on the desktops on computers dating from 2009 onwards, Greyhat has a fairly basic aesthetic that suits the themes and gameplay well. However, there are a few instances, such as the tunnelling sections, where the high-contrast colours are difficult to focus intently on for extended periods and may pose an accessibility issue for some. The music and sound effects are minimal and fade to the background, but this works well to provide some subtle and much-needed ambience.
The game has a layered narrative, with each individual hacking job having a small story attached, for example, one tells a tale of corrupt teachers and college bribery and another has the player stop a terrorist attack. All gripping short stories in their own right but also a part of a much larger, over-arching narrative of kidnapping and conspiracy that plays out over the course of the game and places it firmly within the thriller genre, amongst others!
Greyhat is much more than initially meets the eye with its compelling narrative and satisfying puzzles, it also exceeds expectations in terms of the length of gameplay and will certainly provide several hours of enjoyment. The only negatives are the unbalanced difficulty setting for the tunnelling sessions and the potential accessibility issues regarding the use of colour.
Overall, the game spans a number of genres, all well implemented in a way that leaves Greyhat feeling like a complete and tangible experience rather than seeming disjointed or overambitious; it has a lot to offer and I’d certainly recommend checking it out!