Double Fine’s Hack ‘N’ Slash Is Not Actually A Hack ‘N’ Slash

Can you solve a screenshot?

Oh Double Fine, you clever masters of language’s darkest arts, I see – and indeed, understand the true ramifications – of what you did there. You said a thing that sounded like one thing, but it actually meant something entirely different. How cunning, how deceptive. Language, my friends, will never be the same. The Amnesia-Fortnight-born Hack ‘N’ Slash isn’t a top-down action-packed hack-and-slash at all. Instead, it’s an adventure puzzler about hacking – like, with computers and stuff. What’s next? An RPG about rocket-propelled grenades? A Metroidvania that’s actually Metroid and Castlevania duct-taped together? A shooter that’s about shooing-away Ters, whatever those are? This is a brave new world.

Here’s Double Fine’s brief, rather cryptic description of the Indie-Fund (and everyone else ever) funded adventure:

“In Hack ‘n’ Slash, a young elf uses her computer hacking skills to cheat her way through a classic action/adventure game. By subverting old-school gaming tropes with unique hacking mechanics, Hack ‘n’ Slash allows non-programmer players to experience that same sense of mystery and discovery.”

So it sounds like it kind of takes the same tact as empowerment-through-programming experiments like Quadrilateral Cowboy, just from a very different angle. As has often been the case with Double Fine’s recent work, it sounds like a tantalizing mixture of tried-and-true tropes with a succulent sprinkle of freshly diced crazy.

For a small taste, you might consider heading to Hack ‘N’ Slash’s website and downloading the giant JPG image that currently comprises its entirety. Embedded is a kind of puzzle that reveals, among other things, a message from an in-game character, some music, and a short video. Fans, however, are still trying to wring more secrets from its nefarious web of encryption, so you’ll probably want to have a look.

Hack ‘N’ Slash will release sometime during the first half of 2014. As Double Fine points out, it will have algorithms.


  1. basilisk says:

    So they’re developing Spacebase, Autonomous and Hack’n’Slash, but where is Black Lake? It was the best one! /grumble

    This concept certainly has potential, though. The AF version didn’t quite work, but the core idea is excellent.

    • Nim says:

      Aren’t they also developing Broken Age and Massive Chalice?

    • Yachmenev says:

      I think that Black Lake and The White Birch are the prototypes from the last Amnesia Fortnight that would require the most funding, that’s probably why nothing are happening with them.

      • bitesize says:

        Shame, cos they were the two that I really liked… didn’t care for the 3 that have actually gone into production. :(

        • solidsquid says:

          It’s entirely possible that those ones will take the place of Broken Age and Massive Chalice once those go gold. It does look like they’re wanting to release all the games that were produced by Amnesia Fortnight and, if it is a matter of funding, Broken Age and Massive Chalice could go on to fund Black Lake and The White Birch

        • G-Lord says:

          My feelings exactly. But I still look forward to every DF project just because it’s DF.

      • Tacroy says:

        Wasn’t the White Birch prototype basically nothing? I played it and it was just a third-person walking around in a blocked off valley thing.

        • S Jay says:

          You are probably referring to Black Lake (walking around in a forest). White Birch was the one of a girl climbing a tower.

          • Tacroy says:

            Nope I was definitely referring to White Birch – turns out I never realized you could get past the first scene.

    • S Jay says:

      Are they developing Automatons? Never heard they were.

  2. Low Life says:

    They could’ve taken the pun all the way by making a game about hacking and slash fiction.

    Or hacking and Guns N’ Roses.

    • Vandelay says:

      I’m expecting some kind of bladder control mechanic.

      • InnerPartisan says:

        Also, gratuitous monetezation schemes through the sale of outrageous top hats.

    • Gap Gen says:

      A bad journalist and a fan fiction author team up to make the most poorly-written and researched piece of prose in the English language.

      • TWChristine says:

        You reminded me of Marty Di Bergi from This Is Spinal Tap going over the reviews of the band’s albums.

    • TWChristine says:

      I would totally go for a Guns N’ Roses game! There was a part of me that was hoping that’s what Brutal Legend was going to be.

  3. GameCat says:

    Meh, all these Double Fine latest games seems to be very uninspired and boring, at least for me. :x

    • Gap Gen says:

      I give that comment a C+. Didn’t really capture my imagination, y’know? Maybe add a pun or something next time to spice it up.

      • GameCat says:

        If they could double their imagination this game (and others from their massive base of projects) could be fine.
        Otherwise it’s just broken like Dragon Age.

        • S Jay says:

          “it could be fine. otherwise…”

          … DOUBLE FINE. The pun was written, right there, you just needed to…ahm… C-

  4. Juan Carlo says:

    Seems like Double Fine is 100% about selling pitches to games these days, rather than making games. They now have several kickstarter and pre-release games in development, but not a great track record for finishing strongly. Here’s a novel idea: before you try to sell us yet another crowd funded zygote of a game, how about you actually finish just one of your games that are already being crowd or early access funded?

    • bitesize says:

      This isn’t being funded by crowd or Early Access though, is it? It’s just a game that is being released. Same as Autonomous.

      • SurprisedMan says:

        And Dropchord, which also came out this year.

        So, in summary, they’ve been developing this game since Amnesia Fortnight and are going to release it complete next year. They have released Dropchord this year, plus the enhanced version of Autonomous they made for Leap. Their 2 crowdfunded titles are in development with the first releasing part 1 in January and then the other in April/May. Their Early Access game Spacebase has had 1 major update already and is expecting a similar sized update each month. And in the meantime they have also realeased various ports of older games including the PC release of Brutal Legend earlier in the year.

        Sounds to me like they’re doing exactly what they said they were doing: being a multi-project studio with various things being released and being in production at a time.

    • Yachmenev says:

      How do you think game companies and projects work?

      The Broken Age team is as big as it can be, based on the budget. Other people there are working on other games because they have managed to raise funding for them on their own.

      The only thing that change by them finishing a game before another team starts another game would be them employing fewer people and making fewer games. And why would that be better for any of us?

      • The Random One says:

        The only difference is that, since the Broken Age kickstarter, DF have been very open about their development process. I’m sure that if you went to (say) Bethesda you’d find an equivalent number of unfinished game zygotes, but they’re made for the executives and some two years away from being revealed to the public.

        • SurprisedMan says:

          I think DF would argue (and have said) that transparency has been good for them, even if some can’t handle the truth of the messy way games sometimes come into being. I think they benefit from the closer connection they have with the community more than they lose out from someone occasionally getting the wrong end of the stick or criticizing some decision they made.

    • RichieJohn says:

      The Broken Age team is maybe 10 people at it’s biggest and Double Fine is at least 65 people. Should they sack everyone who’s not working on Broken Age?

  5. Zorn says:

    An RPG about rocket propelled grenades sounds intriguing.

    At this point I’m asking myself, if being spread that thin about many projects is hampering the
    possibility of getting an gfwl-free Iron Brigade. Of course there’s the publisher that’s not to
    be named, but I’m curious how much a small studio can lift and what this means for priorities.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I want an FPS game from FPS (Facepunch Studios) with a frames-per-second mechanic, kind of like a time control thingy.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Yaaaaaaaaay algorithms!

  7. ividyon says:

    Shoot ‘er – a zombie apocalypse mercy-killing simulator. Deliver the merciful killing shot to your infected spouse in this visceral(tm) experience for PS4, Xbone and Vita.

  8. floweringmind says:

    If you go to the site you can download the image which is actually a RAR file. Inside are 3 files. One is mini movie, one a text file and the 3rd is the image. I don’t know if the text leads you to another file.

  9. floweringmind says:

    Here is the text from the file:

    A note from the Acting Regent Wizard: I have imposed stringent new laws for the kingdom’s
    safety. My security forces have discovered individuals embedded among us that seek to bring
    chaos to our kingdom. The application of these laws will be focused on preventing their success.
    It is imperative that we capture these dangerous dissidents. First, all enciphered messages
    are forbidden. We cannot secure our radiant kingdom with secrets kept from each other.
    Second, no one is to enter the forest. I have many powerful spells, but no incantation will
    rid the forest of the evils that have awoken there. You have all heard the tales presented by
    our brave military men who have managed to escape the forest alive. Finally, I have set a
    reward for reports of dissident activity; it is my hope that by our collective watchful eye,
    we can find the source of these new evils facing us. I will be the first and loudest
    to celebrate their passing. Restoring peace will allow me to pass on the regency to our fair
    princess, having successfully observed my oath to prepare the kingdom for her reign.
    I long for the day when the glyphs of her name appear upon the crown that is rightfully hers.

  10. floweringmind says:

    Here is a video on the game: link to

  11. Damien Stark says:

    “A Metroidvania that’s actually Metroid and Castlevania duct-taped together?”

    I’ve tried pushing cash, checks, and credit cards into my screen, but nothing is happening. Why won’t you take my money? Do I have to Start Kicking my computer or something, I hear the kids are doing that these days to get new games they want…