As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Midnight Protocol has a demo that I wanted to give a go and honestly, it’s pretty neat! This is a tactical narrative-driven RPG where you type in commands to hack into servers, beat security systems, steal money, help people, or discover secrets! The story itself revolves around a hacker named “Data” (that’s you) who got doxxed by a hacker called Kraken and who was then put in jail for a whole year. Now, with the help of your old colleagues, you get back into the game and try to find the answers as to what Kraken is up to, as well as why and how they were able to reveal that information about you that got you into jail.
The story itself sounds like a revenge story but it tries not to be that. I found it interesting in the way that the story is told but the main focus seems to lie on the turn-based experience in the game where you essentially need to build a deck, run programs, and complete missions. By running the “Cloak” program, you can stop “the network” from tracing you. “Sniffer” reveals firewalls and the like while “Dagger” attacks firewalls. There are also viruses as well as other stealth programs that you can use to make your way through the game. As you progress through the missions, you earn credits that can then be used to buy those programs on the black market. It’s all quite straightforward, in my opinion, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’d imagine that you can build a deck based on your playstyle. I didn’t quite like the “tunnel” program but other players may enjoy playing around that more instead of having to breach a firewall or ICE or whatever first.
The levels play out on these isometric maps of sorts where you move from a data centre to others and where you essentially try to get the job done before the network traces you. You can only do so many actions per turn but there is also a real-time mode that I didn’t quite like personally. Maybe it’s because this is only a demo or maybe it’s because the game is designed around the turn-based playstyle… regardless, I found the turn-based gameplay to be a lot more approachable and less stressful. You’re able to download things in three turns and each turn that passes isn’t limited by any countdown or anything, so you can take your time thinking about how to play out your next few moves. At the same time, you need to allocate “slices” to run your programs. For instance, the “dagger” or “leech” programs actually perform better if you allocate more “slices” to them – but since you only have eight slices in the demo, you’ll have to figure out if it’s worth waiting longer to break a firewall… or if you should risk getting caught by reducing the slices you’ve allocated to “cloak” to power up the “dagger” more.
As you progress through the game, you also make choices and write e-mails. The “writing” process for these really consists of you hitting tab to autocomplete or hitting random buttons to “type out” messages. It’s predetermined which is a bit of a letdown. The same thing goes for your username. It’s always “Data”, which I didn’t particularly like… and it’s also pretty cliché? I doubt that people in 2060 will call themselves “Data” when they hack networks. But while that was slightly annoying, I find the idea of not using a mouse and completely relying on the keyboard controls quite intriguing. Similarly, you can always run a “help” command which tells you how to use certain commands – oh and as you complete missions, you may find information that you then google to find out more leads in the story… Oh, and there are challenges as well as a reputation system in place.
The game has a lot to offer, judging from the demo alone, but I obviously haven’t played the full release and can’t tell you anything about how challenging it is or what else there’s in it. I’m looking forward to eventually grabbing Midnight Protocol‘s full version. As it’s made by a small team with a lot of love, I’d imagine that they probably put a lot of effort into this game. Definitely check the demo out yourself or, if you want to, go grab this month’s Humble Choice as it’s in there as well among some other interesting titles!