HacknSlash Review – Nothing Beats a Brutal Old School Dungeon Crawler!

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, it was a great time to be into games! There was an explosion of game play mechanics the world had never before seen, practically every game that came out was a revolution. Role playing games (RPG’s) of today owe so much to the trails blazed by legends like “Rogue”, “Moria”, and “NetHack”. All three were text based (ASCII) games, where the game graphics were made up of textual symbols to draw out the dungeon and characters. These games were merciless, but yet addicting. Imagine, no save games and no restore points! A single mistake would lead to permanent in-game death – GASP! The world was completely random, and there was no auto map feature! Yes folks, those were the days, you lived and died as easily as a candle in the wind. All this leads me to my latest app review; a game from a local developer I know from the AppRochester mobile development group, Steve Maier. Steve’s game is simple called “HacknSlash”, and pays homage to the above mentioned brutal dungeon crawlers of the early days. But this time, you don’t need a terminal to play it, all that retro adventuring fits in the palm of your hand. 

HacknSlash doesn’t offer much in the way of tutorials or flashy cut-scenes, it has a nice intro picture with some spooky wind and music that greets you at the game’s menu. From the menu, you can jump right in and start the game, continue, if you may have left a game in progress, read a quick help page, check out GameCenter Achievements, or find out a little more about the game. The game’s main goal is to get loot and make it to level 20, which is NO easy task.

Starting a new game brings you to a character creation screen with some random characteristics based on your standard Dungeons and Dragon’s style character information, Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, etc. From this screen, you have the choice of re-rolling the character stats, and choice of gender. If you’re happy, you get to name your hero, and jump into the dungeon!

HacknSlash doesn’t offer much in the way of flashy graphics or abundant ambient sounds, but it’s graphics are a retro throwback to the good ole 8bit era of gaming. The controls are simply a tap in the direction you wish to go in, and you’ll either find some loot, or get found by some random monster. If you’re attacked by a random monster, combat is handled with two options, Fight or Run. If you’re lucky you will prevail and gain experience for it. If you’re not, you may end up a corpse. In several play throughs, I never made it to level 2, so it’s challenging to say the least. Occasionally you’ll find stairs that take you to an inn, where you can heal, and regenerate the dungeon. Other times, you hit a teleport trap and flung to some corner of the dungeon. Upon death, you are greeted with a tombstone, and the option to start over. The only thing I think missing is a summary of how you did. It would be nice to have seen how you did before starting over. The game offers GameCenter integration with achievements, but I’m not quite sure what your leader board score is based off of.

All in all, the game is solid, and can be fun to play for a few minutes. Steve’s promising iCade support and an iPad version soon, and for $.99, you can’t really go wrong. 

App Store Link: HacknSlash – YsApps