PAX East – Hack 'n' Slash Impressions

If you’ve ever experimented with programming as a kid, then you no doubt have memories of making a program then changing around the variables to make some pretty crazy stuff happen. Or maybe you just did that with a Quake console or your sister’s Windows 98 account. Double Fine’s newest game, Hack ‘n’ Slash somehow manages to take the fun of that and apply it to a Zelda style game.

In the demo on display at PAX East, the first area or so of the game was available to play. Right off the bat, the game is absolutely adorable and sports a storybook artstyle. Players take control of Alice, a girl who finds herself trapped in a jailcell with a USB sword. After stabbing the environment, it’s revealed that this sword actually has the power to change the digital properties of the world.

After taking a swing at the jail cell door, the “unlocked” value can be changed from true to false in a bright blue pop-up console. As the demo continued, swinging at rocks, bushes, treasure chests, and enemies allowed players to bend the entire world to their digital will. Bushes’ “on fire” variables could be set to true and enemies could even be changed to make their attacks do negative damage, healing Alice instead of hurting her.

The demo ended with a puzzle to open a locked door that required some real clever thinking, so if you thought every problem in the game could be solved by reprogramming each challenge to be easier, guess again. By the time the demo ended, I had a great time with Hack ‘n’ Slash. It’s a really cute and simple way to make a game out of programming and scripting as well as relating some of the more minute intricacies to those who might not even know that much about programming.

With its charming visuals and clever gameplay, Hack ‘n’ Slash stands to be one of the more inventive games Double Fine has ever put out– which says a lot considering their wide range of titles.

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