Following it’s official public debut at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) last month, indie developer E McNeill has presented a brand new demo build of the forthcoming Darknet to VRFocus. Billed as a ‘playable trailer’, this new showcase offers a unique insight into the kind of experience that Darknet will eventually become.
Despite its visual presentation Darknet is actually very comparable to many logistical board games, notably the likes of Chinese Checkers, the player’s solitary goal is to take control of nodes at strategic locations on the virtual maps provided. This is done by entering the node and initiating a viral attack. The player’s virus will the propagate across the internal network within the node changing the colour of the hexes which form the visual representation of mass. Should the player’s colour changed nodes spread to the core they will claim it as their own, however there are security systems within each node which will move between hexes and return the colour to normal, preventing your virus from spreading further along these channels.
A very simple experience, Darknet is quick to learn but compelling in it’s mastery. Learning the path that your viral attack will take while also predicting the movement of the security systems is an enjoyable and rewarding task, and when given the opportunity to initiate more than one attack on a single node timing and accuracy become incredibly important.
This viral attack is just one of four abilities seen in the demo version, though only the Logic Bomb is available in this build. The final blow for the network, the Logic Bomb can be launched when enough nodes have been captured and will initiate a system-wide crash, which is your ultimate goal.
The presentation of Darknet could be said to be basic, but it is only intended as a direct representation of a simple experience, and as such does not need anything more complicated in order for the player’s interaction to prove enjoyable. The fact that the videogame is designed specifically for a virtual reality (VR) experience is arguably a matter of developer preference than any real need, as Darknet could easily be played without a VR headset, however in doing so the visual construct is much stronger than could be achieved with a 2D monitor. VRFocus would argue that Darknet will be received better in VR, but it’s not an essential piece of this logical dexterity challenging puzzle.