Hacking has been a staple of games across many genres, especially immersive simulations. They inject an element of logic into the gameplay amidst all the action-packed shooting and slashing. Over the years, different games have had different ways of approaching hacking.
They’ve usually been part of more sci-fi and tech-focused franchises. Hacking can also vary from game to game. These range from pin connection mini-games to more number-centric mini-games with unique logic rules.
Note: This list is subjective and reflects the author’s own opinions.
These video games feature intriguing hacking mechanics
1) NieR: Automata
Released in 2017, Platinum Games’ NieR:Automata was a smash hit. Chronologically, it’s the latest entry in Square Enix’s Drakengard series and won several awards upon release for its incredible storytelling. Control the three androids: 2B, 9S and A2 as they return to post-apocalyptic Earth to battle hostile robotic forces.
Hacking is different from other games on the list because it relies solely on reflexes rather than logic. Here, players engage in a mini-game hell and must destroy the opposing orb that fires projectiles in an enclosed arena.
This makes sense, considering the game is over-the-top and action-packed. NieR:Automata is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
The game is also confirmed to be coming to Nintendo Switch later this year on October 6, 2022.
2) Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Released in 2011, Eidos Montreal revived the critically acclaimed Deus Ex series with a prequel game set in a dystopian future. As Sarif Industries security guard Adam Jensen, players find themselves under attack by a mysterious terrorist organization. Armed with cybernetics (called Augmentations) and a plethora of weaponry, Jensen must track down those responsible.
The sci-fi sandbox worlds of Human Revolution are full of attention to detail and allow you to solve problems in different ways. One of them is hacking terminals, which can be achieved through hacking network nodes.
From the initial node, each branch path leads to various other network elements besides the goal, such as data caches and other computers. However, it’s a race against time as the enemy can trace the player.
The game is available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U and PC.
3) Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Splinter Cell has always been one of Ubisoft’s most beloved franchises. 2005’s third-person stealth entry Chaos Theory is widely considered one of the best games in the genre, and for good reason.
Iconic protagonist Sam Fisher returns to infiltrate highly secure locations and uncover shady deals behind the scenes. Players are equipped with the perfect set of tools any spy could ask for to achieve this. These range from infrared for heat signature detection to a gun that can temporarily jam any electronic device.
Hacking is also an element here, along with a number elimination game. Players will be presented with a list of numbers and must discern the correct one. The right panel features the changing numbers and players must be quick to select the one that shines the best. This is also all on a timer, so the correct numbers must be reduced before an alarm is triggered.
The game is available on a wide variety of platforms, including PlayStation 3, Nintendo 3DS, and PC.
4) Fallout: New Vegas
Widely regarded as one of the best games of all time, Obsidian Entertainment’s open-world RPG is acclaimed to this day. Released in 2010, it followed in the footsteps of Bethesda’s Fallout 3 as a first/third person exploration RPG.
After being left for dead in the dangerous Mojave Desert, the Courier must track down the culprit and recover his stolen package. It strikes a balance between discovery and combat, with different playstyles possible – from melee to firearms.
Hacking has been a staple of the post-apocalyptic franchise, and it returns here. The terminal has several words on the screen with symbols thrown into the mix. Clicking on one of them will tell the player how many letters of their selection are in the correct place.
Finally a lot of assumptions. But things can be made easier if the player finds groups of symbols between sets of parentheses; selecting them will remove incorrect passwords and replenish the number of attempts the player made before being locked out.
5) Cyberpunk 2077
CD Projekt RED’s highly controversial 2020 open-world RPG has been universally criticized for technical and design shortcomings due to development hell. As a mercenary for hire named V, players are thrust into the dark underbelly of the lawless Night City when a heist goes awry. It takes a page from various games like Deus Ex and Fallout regarding its gameplay while adding its new aspects, like the Cyberdeck.
The studio has made strides in fine-tuning the game since launch, but it has its engaging moments. Hacking, in particular, is nice. The Breach command brings up the hack screen, presenting players with a matrix of two-digit alphanumerics. These can be compared to designated sequences that must be entered into a buffer.
But the key rule is that the main matrix can only alternate between horizontal and vertical choices per entry. Players should think two steps ahead to determine how the sequence might line up.
Cyberpunk 2077 is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.