The latest experiment to pop out of Double Fine is built around a pun so brilliant and so obvious, you wonder why nobody has done it before.
On the surface, Hack 'n' Slash is a charmingly illustrated Zelda clone, a top-down adventure in which you explore a flip-screen fantasy kingdom in a quest to defeat an evil wizard. The twist comes from that seemingly generic title: this is a game where you literally hack things with your sword. That's hack as in "computer hacking". Mere moments after receiving your weapon, while locked in a dank dungeon, you clang it against the cell door only for it to break, revealing a USB-style protrusion. It's the almost endless possibilities opened up by this discovery that provides your chance to survive and thrive, not your ability to slice things up.
So you try the sword on the door a second time, and now you can access the code dictating the door's behaviour.
Double Fine's fourth wall-breaking adventure Hack 'n' Slash has emerged from its Early Access release and onto Steam proper in its latest 1.0 launch earlier today.
UPDATE 07/05/2014: Hack 'n' Slash has finally launched on Steam Early Access, where it costs £14.99 (or £18.99 with the soundtrack).
Psychonauts and Brutal Legend developer Double Fine has announced its latest project, Hack 'N' Slash, a puzzle action game about hacking (and slashing, for that matter) due for PC, Mac and Linux during the first half of 2014.
The game follows the exploits of an elf who hacks her way into a computer game, Tron-style, and must use her techno-wizard skills to scour the code for secrets. "Instead of swords, arrows and bombs, you discover exploits, trainers and cracks," project lead Brandon Dillon explained in his initial pitch. "The puzzle dungeons will be designed to teach you progressively more sophisticated hacking, cheating and reverse-engineering tools. And they won't be toys. They'll actually be used to hack the running game."
"I've always loved games with lots of secrets in them," Dillon said in Hack 'N' Slash's official announcement. "When I first discovered a hex editor in an emulator, it dawned on me that I could be a kind of digital treasure hunter - no game could keep even its deepest secrets from me if I adventured long enough in its code and memory."