Episode 1 of Code 7, a hacking-based text adventure, is due for release later this month and I, for one, am excited.
The game revolves around two agents, Sam and Alex, who are sent to figure out what happened when humanity’s first interstellar space station goes dark. It’s a familiar scenario, and one that you can be certain is going to get worse before it gets better.
Throughout the game, you are given an MS-DOS style hacking interface to work with. It’s up to you to quickly become familiar with the commands – although to be fair the game teaches you very well – and use these to manipulate the environment to help your colleague make it through. Your partner will talk to you via radio, and you’re able to track their movements on simple, top-down maps. They are navigating their way through the station, and you are the ‘guy in the chair’, doing your best to get to grips with the systems and solve hacking, command-based puzzles.
It’s a very clever and immersive way to play the game. There are no full, fancy animations or cut scenes; you mostly just see geometric shapes moving around on a map, and you will spend a lot of time reading and typing. But within moments, you’re deep into the world. It starts off small, doing things like hacking into terminals and opening doors, and then it builds to more complicated tasks like playing with other systems to make doors unlock. Then suddenly, you’re frantically trying to work out how to stop some kind of machine that’s hunting your partner, while simultaneously screaming at the damn elevator to JUST GET WORKING WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE NOT WORKING OH MY GOD WHAT COMMAND DO I USE.
For something that looks very simple, it’s surprisingly absorbing and I genuinely felt the pressure and the panic trying to get something done at certain moments of peril. Even though I could only see a little shape representing my partner desperately cowering in a corner, and hear her desperately begging me to do something at one point (thanks to some excellent voice acting), my imagination filled in all of the rest. Add to this a thumping, electronica/techno soundtrack that knows when to be in the background and when to kick in, and you have all the makings of a very well done, very tense sci-fi adventure.
The puzzles are really interesting, including one fun (and stressful!) sequence where you have to try and sneak your partner through a maze of death robots. Everything also felt tightly scripted and made perfect sense in the context of the story – it never felt like you were doing something for the sake of it; everything you did progressed the story in some way, or shed light on the mystery of why you were there.
Speaking of the mystery, episode 0 finishes with a reveal that really sets up the rest of the story. The wait has been long, but I have no doubt that it will be oh so worth it.