Freeware Garden: I Know This

The image of the frantically typing hacker whose fingers dance on the keyboard and make digital magic happen is a ’90s cyberpunk and tech thriller mainstay. It’s also here to stay, though in 2015 Global Game Jam Entry I Know This it’s you in the shoes of the protagonist.

I Know This is a hacking game that may not match the realistic feel and atmosphere of Uplink, but which is frantic, fun and surprisingly action-oriented. It’s also a game with its tongue set firmly in its cheek, that has you attempting to break into a computer system in search of a single, important file that may or may not be central to the plot.

Just like in Jurassic Park, an obvious influence to the game, all the files are stored in a navigable 3D virtual reality world apparently powered by Unix. You’ll need to get to specific Search Nodes and hack them in order to start narrowing down where the file you are looking for is hidden, maneuver around corrupted folders and shelter yourself from the searchlight-like Admin Scans in hidden files. Interestingly, the filenames you’ll see in the game’s VR-space are presented in a nostalgic 8.3 format and directly lifted from your hard drive’s file structure.

The main dish of I Know This, the glorious hacking mini-game, involves mashing your keyboard to make code appear and hitting return key where the line endings are; you know, at semi-colons, parentheses and/or the last green character you see on your screen. Yes, it’s a bit as if the brilliant has been tweaked to become something sporting actual gameplay while retaining the ability to help you fantasize about rapidly coding in C.

And if all this sounds a bit intimidating, worry not. It’s not and, besides, Clicky the Office Assistant ripoff is there to guide you and provide you with way more laughs than any other help system should be allowed to.


  1. ansionnach says:

    Could be good. Probably needs some sort of tense, adrenaline-pumping soundtrack. Loved the hacking in the original System Shock, think its finale was one of the best I’ve seen, even if it is very similar to that of Ultima Underworld…

  2. Harlander says:

    Amazingly, the developer of FSN, the 3D file browser seen in Jurassic Park, turns up in the comments for this.

  3. TillEulenspiegel says:

    “realistic feel and atmosphere of Uplink”

    Uplink does a great job of emulating the feel of 80s/90s movie-style hacking, but that’s miles away from any kind of realism.

    Ignoring the technical stuff, I’d definitely be interested in a Kevin Mitnick-esque social engineering / hiding from the feds game. Just go read Ghost in the Wires, it’s all there.

    • Tacroy says:

      While that would he really cool, it’d be really hard to make – like on the level of a procedural point and click hard.

  4. Catchcart says:

    find / -iname *importantfile* (assuming you’ve got root)

  5. Robstafarian says:

    The 8.3 file names really break the Unix-like OS immersion. This is a common aesthetic problem with movie-style hacking games being made for Windows-based gamers.

    • Harlander says:

      Unix-like OS immersion

      What bizzare flavour of UNIX do you use? o.O

    • ansionnach says:

      Was nearly going to say this but I think since this was lashed together in minimal time what they were going for was all of the computery tropes from the time going into one bucket. Seeing as they’re probably taking the piss, the Office Assistant and 8.3 are fair game. They could throw in that old mac error sound as well!