NITE Team 4 Is A Hacking Sim With A Demo

Panic ensued in Castle Shotgun when a press release arrived quite unlike like the others. “I work for Alice & Smith, developers of The Black Watchmen Alternate Reality Game.” Alice! Our Alice? And Smith! But which Smith? An ARG? Suddenly, distrust filled the room. The tension was palpable. You could taste it in the tea.

Alice & Smith went on to present NITE Team 4 [official site], a hacking game set in the same universe as their ARG. It has a free public demo, but who could be trusted to report the truth? Who would be ready to betray their friends, in case the truth demanded it? Alice and both Smiths denied any involvement. Of course they would. That’s what guilty people do. After a heated discussion, they agreed to let an outsider investigate. That’s where I come in. Except someone stopped me in my tracks, just when I was starting to have some fun. We may never know the truth.

NITE Team 4 is still in alpha, but you can download its demo for Windows and Mac.

During its first levels, NITE Team 4 doesn’t stand out from many other hacking sims. It immediately reveals itself as a puzzle game dressed in real or realistic commands and terminology. You play as the agent of an NSA-like organization, with a simplified command interface, black and green color scheme, and most of the cliches of the romanticized hacker life.

This alternation between realism and accessibility is at times quite jarring: they want to use real codenames, but they can’t use them without explaining what they mean, so you’ll find a mission objective that will tell you to conduct a “target exploitation” and then add in brackets “TAREX.” Same goes for the mini-games, like the one pictured above: they stand-in for the parts of hacking which may actually be hard to both perform and represent. You need to literally traverse walls of “fire”, in a cyber-reinterpretation of Frogger, to “exploit the firewall”, and it’s really immersion-breaking if you care about this kind of thing.

Of course, the first levels of this kind of game will often be similar to one another, and it’s hard to tell if they will come together in interesting ways later on, when the missions can afford to be more complex. But what could make NITE Team 4 stand out from the competition are the missions in which you need to collaborate with agents on the field, helping them infiltrate building, retrieve data, sabotage targets or plant eavesdropping equipment.

Unfortunately, a bug prevented me from progressing past the third mission in the demo, so I didn’t get to play any of those, if they’re at all included. The game is still in alpha, so bugs are to be expected sometimes, but I know this bug was planted to prevent me from finding the truth. We may never know what really happened. We may never solve the ARG.

Look at them. Really look at their mugshots. What is Alice hiding behind her glasses? What is Graham hiding behind his beard? What is Adam so interested in, that we can’t see? They’re all suspects. We can’t trust any of them.

From this site

23 Comments

  1. Spinoza says:

    when?

  2. TheKruxed says:

    When they can’t even get the world map remotely accurate doesn’t fill me with confidence

  3. Hmuda says:

    “During its first levels…”

    So it’s not a sandboxy hacker game I take it?

    The only game of this kind that I ever got myself fully into was Uplink, and the reason was that it dropped you into a digital world, where you could connect wherever you wanted and progress the story in that open world. Every other game I tried in the genre were all level based, dropping you into scenario after scenario.

    There is so much potential for this genre, yet the only one that seemed to understand this potential was the first of its kind. I always get depressed when I hear Introversion say they would never revisit the title. Uplink 2 would be a dream come true. :(

    • Artist says:

      Check out “Street Hacker”. Very sandboxy.

    • IonTichy says:

      Wasn’t there also a mod that has been actively developped for Uplink with the goal to extend it?

    • Louis Mayall says:

      Hacknet is really god and sankboxy. I actually prefer it to Uplink, but I never got that far with the latter. Check it out.

  4. Psychomorph says:

    Screenshots high-res as always.

  5. Artist says:

    The Comprehensive List of Hacking Games

    Offline:
    AI Wars: The Awakening (FPS-style/ the only hacking game in 3D)
    Code Hacker 1.4.0
    Streethacker (one of the best, imo) link to streethacker.com
    Uplink (the grandfather of the cinematic hacking genre)
    Hacker Evolution/Untold – exoSyphen Studios 2007/08
    Hacker Evolution Duality – exoSyphen Studios 2011 link to hackerevolutionduality.com
    Hacker 2012, 2004, 2005 – Terminal Zero
    Hacker Syndicate – Terminal Zero
    Digital Overlay
    PortSign (was planned with online capability but stopped)
    Decker (Shadowrun Matrix rebuild) link to www10.caro.net
    Blue Sky – Terminal Zero
    Digital Hazard – exoSyphen Studios
    BS Hacker Replay/Unlimited – exoSyphen Studios (console)
    Mindlink
    FATE http://www.fatetek.net
    Codelink v1
    Hack the Universe – Blind Virus/Terminal Zero
    Endgame: Singularity – emhsoft.com
    DarkSigns
    HackTheGame http://www.hackerforever.com
    Hacker X-8.9 1.00 (macOS) link to compudav.com
    Mother (italian) link to v4ldemar.net
    RVL Hacker (exosyphen engine) link to rvlgames.com
    Galactic Hacker 1.3 (uplinkesque with Gamemaker)

    Online:
    Claudio-One http://www.claudio.co.nz (WIP, alpha)
    Codelink Online v2 http://truthisaweapon.com (WIP, online beta)
    iHacker (formerly known as Nanobyte Online) (WIP) link to ihacker.co.uk
    Bytelink (WIP?) link to bytelink-online.com
    Hack Wars http://www.hackwars.net
    Netrunners MMORPG link to totalmadownage.net (MUD-like)

    Browser
    CyberWars – http://www.cyber-wars.com
    net-hackerz – link to aldihighway.de
    Cyberhats link to cyberhats.net
    Slavehack http://www.slavehack.net
    Hack-the-net games and clones (eg.World Hack Organization)
    hijackerz http://hijackerz.de (german)
    Cypher link to cypher.extremecast.com
    Hackerforever http://www.hackerforever.com
    Born2Hack http://www.born2hack.de (german)
    Hacker Project http://www.hacker-project.com

    Vaporware:
    Domain Knights 3 – link to periodicgames.com (ceased service)
    SYscracker
    Nabu offline
    Hacker 3.1
    Hell School Hacker?(pub: Dark Night Market)
    Nethack http://www.nethack.us (Slavehack clone)
    DarkSigns Online http://www.darksignsonline.com (online but vaporware already?)

    others:
    Sp.A.I link to moddb.com (Cyberspace 3d Puzzler on Unreal Engine)
    HACK3R Puzzle
    HL2: Dystopia link to dystopia-game.com (Cyberpunk-mod with Cyberspace part)
    Neuromancer by Interplay Entertainment (1988)
    Shadowrun by Beam Software (1993, SNES) Action-RPG
    Shadowrun by BlueSky Software (1994/96 for SEGA)
    System Shock 1 by Looking Glass 1994 (FPS/Action-RPG, PC/Mac)

    And finally another list of hacking games over at the Onlink forum (not my work):
    link to ferrousmoon.com … =52&t=1880

  6. RaunakS says:

    I still think microcorruption is the best game of this type (which I call TIS100-like). I really needed to deep dive into my assembly books to get past some levels and some fairly advanced knowledge of bypassing access restrictions is necessary. Despite all that its an extremely engaging browser game and I would encourage anyone with a passing interest in cracking to take a look.

    link to microcorruption.com

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      Harlander says:

      Another interesting thing for learning about computer security concepts is OverTheWire’s wargames, a series of mini hacking tutorial/games you play by logging in and messing with a set of specially insecured linux terminals…

  7. CerdoBlanco says:

    you can download its demo for Windows and Mac.
    Why?!? What real (white) hacker is really using Windows or Mac?

  8. Otterley says:

    Damned if I know how to post a link here :p
    Could somebody hack this site and add an edit button already?

  9. MeSquared says:

    Unfortunately these dev’s ran their ARG (The Black Watchmen) like a pyramid scheme, promising IRL interactions and phone calls etc, only a very select few kickstarter backers, who spent every day in the games IRC and forums, ever received these (I bought on day 1 of early access, have played both season and received nothing, where a few kickstarter backers received multiple phone calls and IRL interactions).
    Ive also tried this demo, its a poor imitation of Hacknet.

    • Anashel says:

      Dev here. Although highly advance game immersion in The Black Watchmen are more rare (similar to legendary loot in an MMO) including the green level event in which we flew a player to a mysterious city to become a live secret agent for 24 hours; the basic game still pack more than 100 puzzles, dozens and dozens of secret documents, fake websites, mini-games and much more to immerse a player in a full scale secret investigation for 50+ hours. We understand it’s not for everyone but we do feel the genre is a refreshing and unique style of game.

      • MeSquared says:

        That is NOT how you advertised it, it was blatantly advertised as though everyone who bought (especially during season 1) would receive their IRL interactions as long as they signed up for the correct agent level (which I did). You then said that anyone who hadn’t received their allotment of IRL interactions during season 1 would receive them during season 2, until season 2 was on sale, then you changed your mind and kept feeding them only to the players who spent 12hrs a day in your IRC and forums, disgraceful, there’s even people who didn’t even receive a confirmation call!

        • Anashel says:

          I don’t know your case specifically, but we try hard to be present and accessible to our player base. We have done ARG project since 2007 with only one objective: we love making peoples lives’ fun! I’m sorry the game wasn’t what you expected, do not hesitate to contact me on our forums (forums.blackwatchmen.com) and I’ll be pleased to give you a refund. My nick is Anashel.

  10. Anashel says:

    First thank you for your feedback on the Alpha version of Nite Team 4. We really hope we can build a game that brings something new to the genre. As you pointed out, mission 4 is much more in the line of what we want to do. We are aiming to give the player the experience of being a hacker part of intense field operations. :)