Darknet Preview

Posted April 3, 2014 by Edmund in Features

Shortly after reviewing Ciess, I had a chance to play with an early demo of Darknet – a full release follow-up by the same developer.

darknet oculus riftThis was just a basic tutorial and not necessarily reflective of the final product but it was interesting to see the direction this project is moving in.

The first thing you will notice is that Darknet is visually stunning. Everything from the transitions, to the network and nodes themselves have been improved upon. The network now looks more like neurons in a brain, with connections snaking between nodes rather than carving a straight line to them. Overall it feels like we’ve upgraded from 1982’s Tron to 2010’s Tron: Legacy.

Menus are large enough to be clearly readable on the DK1. For the time being this is a definite plus point, but it may be best to shrink them a little for the final release on headsets with better resolution, as they need big head movements to browse, in this form.

darknet VRAs for changes to the game itself, there are two new “Exploits,” visible in the menu – the ‘Worm’ and the ‘Crack’ – but the demo does not go on to demonstrate them. Hacking itself has been modified but not beyond recognition. The square grid has been replaced with a hexagonal network and instead of just trying to have your hacks consume all of the space, your object is now take over the centre of the grid. It still adheres to the basic premise of firing a hack at a security program to take control of it.

Hacks expand by growing into adjacent hexes, while security programs – which can not now be eliminated – move to clear hacked territory.
This amounts to something that seems fairly familiar but is at least more interesting to watch. The movement of the security systems is much more dynamic as you watch them chomp away at your growing contagion. This also means there is more opportunity to study the security programs’ behaviour and attempt to outsmart them.

darknet virtual realityAs this was just a tutorial, there are only two nodes to hack and both can be easily beaten. So it is hard to say exactly how much more tactical depth there is in Darknet’s hacking system but there certainly seems to be more potential. My main gripe with Ciess was that the strategic layer quickly trivialised the tactical, and it is not apparent that this has been looked at yet, but understandably as this is just an early demo. A deeper core hacking mechanic should support a more compelling and intricate strategic options, though, so it does seem that Darknet is moving in the right direction.




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About the Author


Edmund Ward is a philosophy graduate who has focused on aesthetics and cultural critique in the information age. He grew up with 'the dream of the holodeck' and is prone to get very excited by new innovations in natural user-interfaces. Edmund is currently looking for volunteers to look after the glucose drip that will sustain his "fleshform" (as he insists on calling it) when he migrates permanently to VR.

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