Hack 'n' Slash took the puzzle-programming subgenre further than most of its peers by letting you edit actual Lua scripts in-game. By doing so you could increase your Link-like character's movement speed, change the behaviour of enemies, or - in the case of a puzzle that has taken 8 years to crack - discover secret rooms.
Not long after Hack 'n' Slash released in 2014, players found a particular file among its scripts called SecretRoom.lua. This particular file was encrypted and could only be unlocked with a decryption key, which no one could figure out.
The answer was found this week by Glenn "Netrix" Anderson, after a tiny hint offered by the designer of the puzzle, Brandon Dillon. After finding the solution, Anderson, who is also a programmer in the video game industry, tweeted that, "It was really cool to take part in this experience. The incredibly talented team that made Hack 'n' Slash a reality has been an inspiration to me as a programmer and game developer."
By solving the puzzle, Anderson collects a $100 bounty placed on the puzzle by another player in 2021.
I've been avoiding spoiling the solution or the contents of the secret room, but Guillaume Fortin-Debigaré, a software analyst who has also worked in the games industry, has broken down the solution if you want to do it yourself. Once you get into the secret room, you'll find "a special message from Brandon Dillon to the player before triggering the game's win state. Using graphics not normally shown elsewhere in the game, Brandon explains the game's backstory, the missing Act 1, and some additional insights into the people that made the game possible."
It's always fun when a community is still exploring and uncovering new things in a game years after release, particularly when, as in Hack 'n' Slash's case, the game is relatively obscure. It's no surprise that this somewhat daunting puzzle game about programming is appealing to so many professional programmers, though.