Thank you, AnRaEl, for sending us a copy of this game to review!
–- Message intercepted 19:44:32
To whomever is reading this, I have to caution you. If you read any more, you could get caught up in these events I've found myself in as well. If you're curious – or foolish – read on.
I'm not sure why I decided to take up the role of a hacker, but this artificial intelligence nicknamed Sybry that contacted me seemed so desperate and lonely. She was kind of cute, too. Turns out she was raised by hackers, and she just wanted to find her father – erm, programmer. Whatever.
Now take note – this looks like a game by a development team by the name of AnRaEl called "Security Hole," but it's all about hacking into computer systems. Fortunately, it's not going to teach you how to really hack. It's all an elaborate puzzle game where you try to line up three dimensional shapes with – you guessed it – holes in virtual firewalls. Use your mouse and keyboard – or your game controller – to rotate the shape until it will pass through the hole. Sounds simple, right?
Don't be fooled. The virtual firewalls come with two different forms of security – or, more precisely, two different challenges to fit the shape through the hole. The first is a timed challenge, where you need to match the shapes within a certain duration. The second limits the number of times you can move the shape. A few of the levels require you to deal with both forms of security simultaneously. Interspersed with these are a variation where you have to guess a "password," which consists of a timed challenge where you match the shape in the middle of the screen with one of the rotating forms in each of the corners. Finally, there are "boss levels," in which you need to compile a complex virus, piece by piece, by passing them through several holes before time runs out. Once you think you've got all that figured out, the shapes change – you start with cubes, but before too long you'll have to figure out how to manipulate structures made of pyramids, dodecahedrons, cylindrical bars, and more. Fortunately, power-ups can be used to help solve the puzzles.
As you proceed through the challenges, more of the story unfolds. These consist of still images of Sybry, with dialogue along the left side of the screen discussing what you two are doing, and why. However, the story seems vague – are you actually traveling to different locations, or is this all happening in cyberspace? At times, it's hard to tell what's going on, and you have no control over what dialogue options you have. Really, the story is the weakest element of the game, and could be construed as largely unnecessary. The focus of the game is the puzzles. Why bother adding the story in the first place?
In fact, the story contains the only elements to this intriguing game that mark down the moral aspects. As a computer hacker, you are infiltrating other people's systems in order to glean information and plant viruses. In fact, over the course of the story, the protagonist even goes as far as to say "we're breaking so many laws right now." But of course, this is just a game. It's not like there will be real world repercussions. Nameless government entities like [REDACTED] aren't going to start intercepting and reading your e-mail messages, right?
One of the best aspects of the game, though, is the replay elements. You can redo any of the puzzles you've completed earlier to try to get a better score – either by solving the puzzles quicker, or avoid using the power-ups. Since the puzzles are randomly generated, it's a different challenge each time. An "endless" mode also is available, where your virus keeps getting new elements with every hole you successfully push it through. How big can your virus grow before you get it wrong?
Aside from the 2D story elements, most of the gameplay looks like a three-dimensional artistic rendition of cyberspace, with a camera that allows you to view the object – and the hole – from all sorts of angles. The music sounds new-agey, a nice blend of soothing and frenetic depending on the puzzle, which adds to the immersion into the game.
Altogether, Security Hole is a fun game that really gets the mental muscles working. The story elements are weak, but can easily be ignored or bypassed in order to plunge into the puzzles. Just take note that the game is about hacking security systems... and you never know who might be watching.
– End intercepted message.