Hack Grid is a puzzle game by Daisy Games that emulates the aesthetics of MS-DOS games, from the barebones art style to the simulated Sound Blaster 16 music and even the CRT screen effect to simulate the bulky displays of back then!
Developer: Daisy Games
Released on: 22 January 2021
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac
Available on: itch.io, Steam (TBA)
The game doesn’t have much of a story apart from being in the shoes of a hacker attempting to gain access to a system of some sort.
The goal of all sixty levels is to use blocks to destroy other ones and make sure only one block remains on the grid. This is done by moving the pieces toward others on two conditions: that they are in direct sight of each other, and they both have different colors (pink and blue). This quickly becomes easier said than done, and it’s easy to get yourself stuck if you aren’t paying attention.
The deeper you get into the game, the more the paths grow complex. Different types of blocks are introduced – such as immovable reticles that can be destroyed with either color, or unmoving tiles that change color when you move other pieces, or even gateways that open and close.
For every ten levels, the first (1, 11, 21, and so on) introduces a new piece, with the next few levels going easy, but the difficulty picks up the pace in the fifth (5, 15, 25, etc). All in all, the game is challenging enough without being too overbearing with the difficulty, and you would quickly figure out the solution within fifteen minutes at most. You can quickly reset a level to start over, and you’re also allowed to undo the last action, but not prior actions.
Artstyle and Music
The art style of the game is extremely simplistic, something that would be easily rendered on a machine running MS-DOS, although the graphics are no technological feat even by DOS standards. While Hack Grid is reliant on colors for the dynamics between pieces, the game has a colorblind mode adding useful indicators to the pieces as visual aids for the colors. If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can also turn on the CRT shader filter for a more authentic vintage experience.
The soundtrack, although incredibly short, is composed using chiptune instruments similar to Yamaha’s OPL3, and has both uplifting and dark tones to them. The game includes a jukebox allowing you to switch between its seven tracks, as well as disable some tracks from playing at all, overall a neat feature that doesn’t see much use due to how small the playlist is.
Hack Grid is another excellent addition to the puzzle game genre. Although there is no plot apart from it being hacking-themed, the game excels with short problems that can be solved in a couple of minutes, perfect when you’re taking a break from work! Besides, if you’re stuck on a level, you can always skip it once, but you’ll have to beat it later so you can skip another stage, reducing the frustration by a bit. For its low price, I recommend getting Hack Grid if you’re looking for a quick fix that can be finished in two hours!