As a Zelda-y action-adventure game, Double Fine's Hack 'n' Slash is impossible to complete. Obstacles are impassable, enemies are unkillable, and puzzles are unsolvable. That's fine though because oh ho ho, Hack 'n' Slash is really a code-hacking puzzle game which happens to be wearing Zelda-green jimjams. Almost a month after its oddly premature launch trailer, Hack 'n' is now on Steam Early Access at £14.99.
Hack 'n' Slash gives players magical powers to mess about with the code underpinning the game, tweaking variables and behaviours to change how everything from enemies to blocks work. At the simpler end of the scale, for example, enemies can be made to harmlessly spin in circles, deal no damage, or explode in a shower of health pick-ups. Getting cleverer, you'll need to do things like change the code which procedurally generates a broken bridge.
There's something very pleasing about brazenly exposing the behaviours which underpin game systems. We come to have a feel for how games work by playing them, discovering the 'tricks,' but this is always felt-out, intuited, and guessed. Hack 'n' Slash showing this so explicitly may help players understand the cold, hard logic and shape our understanding of game systems in general, forever changing how we relate to games. It's a nice fanciful idea, at least.
Do be aware that this is very much an Early Access release, still missing the final dungeon while Double Fine wait on player feedback to tune the puzzles. They also plan to add optional extra puzzles for puzzlemaniacs, and mod tools with Steam Workshop support.
Here, watch this trio of trailers introducing you hacking gadgets: