Michael “brog” Brough’s 868-HACK is a hacking-themed roguelike on iOS that eschews exploration for focused, single-screen tactics. In the game, the player must traverse 8 levels, called “sectors”, filled with data – either points, which are used for scoring, or progs, which are used for defense against the enemies that are summoned to stop your intrusion. Enemies come in four types and move in simple patterns that are easy to exploit in small numbers but quickly become deadly in diverse mobs.
There’s a lot to like about 868-HACK, like the fun theme, the obvious risk/reward mechanisms, and the innovative zapping attack that hurts and stuns enemies. Figuring out how to use zapper and prog to clear out large groups of enemies is extremely satisfying. In many ways, 868-HACK distills the roguelike experience down to the parts where you’ve been dropped into a room full of monsters you’re not fully prepared for and each move is potentially life-threatening.
The free, Windows version that was made for 7DRL is called 86856527 and is still available for download, but the changes for iOS are well worth the $5 price tag, in my opinion. A port of 868-HACK to PC is also planned, but there’s no release date yet.
Vertex Dispenser is a clever RTS where the goal is to overrun your opponents on abstract 3d worlds, claiming your territory vertex by vertex. The most interesting aspect of the game, in my opinion, is the resource management – resources come in seven different flavors, from blue, the least valuable, all the way up to white. The more nodes of a color you own, the faster that resource replenishes, but what color a node becomes when you tag it is dependent on the colors of the adjacent nodes. Specifically, it defaults to the lowest value color that is not present in the adjacent nodes. White, the most difficult color to obtain (because it requires that all six adjacent nodes are different colors), yields the most powerful abilities, and blue the weakest.
Getting the most out of the nodes requires some simple puzzle-solving, but it becomes much more difficult on a constantly changing battlefield where opponents are also expanding and poking at your defenses. It’s a cool idea, and despite the serenity of the abstract audiovisuals, Vertex Dispenser is pretty exciting to play at higher difficulties. The game comes with a single-player campaign, puzzle and battle modes, and the ability to play multiplayer games across platform (Windows/Macintosh).