Review: Darknet (PSVR)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Oculus Rift
  • Gear VR

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Darknet
Format: PSN (339.1 MB)
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Archiact Interactive Ltd.
Developer: E McNeill, LLC.
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €10.99 (EU), £8.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Darknet immerses you in the guise of an elite hacker in cyberspace. You will have to hack into nodes and install viruses in an attempt to reach the core but as soon as a stable antivirus program encounters you, it quickly attacks. You must therefore quickly gauge the locations of each antivirus program in relation to the core and plan accordingly.

There are also Sentinel nodes that add shields and one firewall to all connected nodes. You can go after these or systematically capture adjacent nodes with brute force, meaning more virus programs which come at a high cost. Therefore, you will have to scale your attacks until you have enough funds to acquire enough virus software to go after the larger nodes.

You can also purchase single use Exploits that attack otherwise impenetrable ICE nodes and firewalls and, my favorite, Hydras that spread freely across any unshielded connected nodes in the network. You will also eventually be able to unlock the ability to buy Worms that can corrupt a node and weaken its neighbors as if it had been captured.

All this is to grab data and take over the root node. You will find some high valued data cores in well-protected nodes and it can be a good idea to go after these as the more data you have the more money you get. Unless of course, you fail to capture the root node within the time limit.

Time starts counting down from your first attack on a node in the network. The search programs begin and, depending on the difficulty, you have to balance the need to grab data which means more money to spend on important software and the main task of infiltrating the highly protected root node.

… look beyond these inexplicable images as they do not do the game justice …
No doubt, this sounds confusing and it took a half-hour or so until I knew most of the rules and had a good understanding of what I needed to do. Thankfully, there is an informative tutorial which can be replayed at any time.

It is immensely satisfying when you capture a seemingly difficult core in the first attempt and even better when you do it in one shot and bypass the firewalls and antivirus software with ease. You can continually restart the attack on a node and back out to the hub if you want to try a different one or stock up on useful software.

Due to my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, I found it frustrating to leave many nodes behind and attack the root node due to the five-minute warning, that did not stop me from attacking a few more which usually resulted in being traced and losing out on all that I had gained.

Visuals:
Darknet was built for VR and it shows. While it fails to push the hardware, there are no issues with movement and things are clear and easy to interact with as you just look and point the DualShock 4 in the desired location. A thin beam emanates from the virtual controller shown on-screen and you play the game with just a couple of buttons.

You can look all around to see the nodes, plan your attack, and a few other little secrets. With a simple button press or swipe of the touchpad, you can adjust the view in thirty-degree increments. The way you enter a node or download information is reminiscent of other forms of media that also had a futuristic look.

I implore you to look beyond these inexplicable images as they do not do the game justice. In fact, not even a trailer or live stream fully explains the logical beauty buried in this simplistic and strange looking game.

… an experience for anyone who enjoys logical puzzles …
Audio:
A slow but heavy tune plays in the background with ominous beats that reverb and echo as if you are hearing them through layers of obstructions. It fools you into a mellow and relaxed state all while the clock is ticking down to zero. You get a small and barely noticeable ten minute warning jingle and then at five minutes things crank up a gear.

All of the speech while playing and in the tutorial comes from the DualShock 4 speaker. It works well and adds to the immersion. Each explanation is concise and clear with some on-screen text to help if you missed what was said.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Darknet impressed me. Not only is it addictive as hell but it’s also a nice use of the PlayStation VR headset. It’s very easy to become lost in the immersive digital world and before you know it, you’re a proficient hacker who finds it difficult to come back to reality.

This is an experience for anyone who enjoys logical puzzles. It might still sound confusing and even watching someone else play does not do the game justice, but it has claimed a place as one of my favorite puzzle games in the last few years. The price is very reasonable too, so what are you waiting for?

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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