Half-Half-Half-Half-Half-Elves: TinyHack

I'm naming my first child Pixel, just fyi

So there I am, playing dungeon crawling browser game Legends of Yore on the request of a couple of RPS fans, and I’m thinking to myself- “This isn’t very interesting, is it? I’m a bit bored. I wonder if the IndieGames Blog has a dungeon crawling browser game with a little more to it?”

Of course it does. Say hello to TinyHack. An entire, tiny, randomised RPG played on a field of 9×9 pixels.

Sure, Legends of Yore cradled my attention like you would a sleeping baby for some twenty minutes, and I was done with TinyHack in five minutes, but I left the latter feeling rewarded and fascinated.

It has almost no telegraphing at all, yet if you’ve been playing games for a while then you’ll know to attack monsters until your health is eroded, you’ll know that you need items, and that you’ll want to travel the world map. It’s just obvious.

I found myself trying to imagine what my playing of TinyHack would look like to a non-gamer. It would look like I was fluent in some bizarre language of coloured blocks. Which I am- which we all are, of course. But it’s lovely to be reminded of the fact that all that time spent playing games has built in us a reserve of strange logic that we can barely describe but acts like a key to unlock these imaginary worlds. What I’m saying here is that an indie browser game affected me on a philosophical level and it wasn’t even an arthouse game about death or lonliness. Good job, TinyHack. The rest of you, go play!

Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for something a little less experimental that’ll soak up loads of time and that you’ll be able to play on your work computer, have a nose at Legends of Yore. For what it is, it’s quite well done.


  1. LionsPhil says:

    That’s quite the sudden death screen.

    Aw. It’s not randomly generated.

    • BirdsUseStars says:

      The death screen makes it I think.

    • LionsPhil says:

      One of the few “retro” games where I actually felt for a moment like I was back on the Intellivision.


  2. amandachen says:

    That picture shows 9×9 pixels

  3. JFS says:

    It’s cool :D

  4. starclaws says:

    Meh I still prefer link to crawl.akrasiac.org mainly… But Incursion and Desktop Dungeons still fun ;p Keep up the random little unknown games… Love this website for that stuff.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    Fuck me, that’s hard.


  6. NikRichards says:

    Going to the pub makes things alot less hard.

  7. Fazer says:

    Am I the only one whose first thought upon looking at the title was Half-Life Ep3?

    Damn you, Quintin, with your tricks!

  8. Man Raised by Puffins says:

    and in the ga…

    No, too easy.

    (Edit: @NikRichards, clearly)

  9. Kdansky says:

    Legends of Yore seems to use the sprite graphics from Realm of the Mad God?

  10. Yargh says:

    this really reminds me of the Denegatron games for some reason
    link to rockstargames.com

  11. LionsPhil says:

    Spoiler: VICTORY! link to users.ecs.soton.ac.uk (and there’s audio)

    I didn’t fight all the dragons (what do you mean it doesn’t say they’re dragons of course they’re dragons) in the fortress, and I’m not sure it’s possible to. Sneaky-sneaky and a bit of scarpering wins the day, out at half-health, no magic, every item they list and all the gold. Even slurped from their fountains. :D

    It’s like playing what I think was a Gauntlet port (with a map editor! Oh, the time that ate) on the Atari 800 all those years ago just came flooding back, mixed with a little Nethack. Most fun I’ve had with a game for ages. Who needs a 3D card?

    • unimural says:

      When I reached the forest, I got really excited. See, the back cover told that I could find the ‘Sword of Fairys in the forest of Cuikru’. So when I reached an area of blocks in a couple of shades of green, I knew I’d get the sword soon.
      At that particular instant I was transported back to my childhood, when I was playing the Lords of Midnight. The manual/booklet in the box had promised that there was this special dude, called Utarg of Utarg. And when I eventually discovered the Keep of Utarg, I was absolutely thrilled. The fact that the dude isn’t anything special, just another lord like any other mattered little. My imagination had been rewarded in any case. As with the Sword of insert_name_here.
      Although I have to say when I got the boat, I didn’t understand what the picture was supposed to be :-)

  12. Koozer says:

    Why is Desktop Dungeons the only roguelike with health bars and clear information? I tried stone soup the other day, and it was just mildly irritating at how naff the general interface is and interactions are. This is from a long time Dwarf Fortress player. The genre is calling out for a halfway house between the casualosityness of DD and the slightly old-school-awkward-just-because of the rest of the bunch.

    Someone please shout at me for being wrong and point me to good roguelikes.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I’m too busy being baffled that you think Stone Soup isn’t clear. It’s GUI is pretty damn exemplary.

      Whatever you do, stay away from Nethack, apparently.

    • Kdansky says:

      Have you taken a look at the current version of Stone Soup? It is nothing like the 0.4.3 build I played for a long time.

    • noom says:

      Dungeons of Dredmor looks pretty interesting. Will check that out.

      As for nethack, I also played quite a bit using Falcon’s Eye, but it was never quite finished and uses an out-of-date version of nethack. Somebody else made another version called Vulture’s Eye which tried to continue where Falcon’s Eye left off, but my experience of it was pretty ropey. Personally I think you can’t go wrong playing standard nethack with the Absurd tileset, which is really quite pretty :)

    • ancienttoaster says:

      Brogue is accessible, has a beautiful ui, and still a decent amount of depth. Highly recommended

    • d32 says:

      ToME 4 has the health bars!
      And is (I think) completely controllable by keyboard and/or mouse!

  13. Torgen says:

    OK, which ancient D&D book is the blonde with the extremely perky… eyes mesmerizing the dragon from? I instantly recognized that illustration.

    • Rhygadon says:

      Pretty sure it was a Dragon Magazine cover. Artist named … Caldwell?

  14. Spliter says:

    Damn you quintin and your misleading titles!

  15. beschizza says:

    Cheers, Quintin!