Dungeon Hack

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a game by DreamForge Intertainment
Platform: PC (1993)
User Rating: 8.7/10 - 3 votes
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See also: RPGs
Dungeon Hack
Dungeon Hack
Dungeon Hack
Dungeon Hack

Dungeon hack, ostensibly, uses the Eye Of The Beholder III engine, although this is a much faster, much smoother version, avoiding the awful disk-accessing and mouse delays of its big brother. The whole thing has a much more polished feel, with a pleasant if hammy intro and all sorts of user-friendly title screens. Say: T shall see thee anon' to the elongated story sequences, multi-character parties, and enormous unmappable levels. Cheer: 'What ho!' to no storyline, a single character and automappable, auto-configurable, innumerable random dungeons.

Firstly, you define your character, either from a dubious Stock of 'ones they did earlier' (in-built elves, trolls and mages), or through the usual choices of class (fighter, thief, cleric etc.), sex, alignment and portrait. Next: you make your first grownup choice. Are you to experience an easy, moderate, hard or random dungeon? The choice for any self-respecting Dungeon Master is, of course, Random (see the 16 Million-Billion-Zillion panel) but let's just suppose you're just interested in the game and have plumped for the Moderate level, being, as you are, a little middle-of-the-road.

In the game...

The first thing you'll notice is that the playing area (usually one third) has been reduced to cram in all the elements which, before, were only a flick of the mouse away. The inventory now Stands vertically on the left on the screen, leaving room for a stat box, an automap, a compass and the usual direction click-box. The in-game graphics also show signs of cramming. The customary four-framed animations are now down to two, with goblins, ghouls and trolls flicking: robotically as they try to turn 90 degrees. The usual flotilla of doors, panels, keys and illusionary walls make up the trappings, along with the potions, scrolls and magical objects.

Gameplay-wise there are no surprises. Shunt around with the cursor keys or mouse. Click on objects to carry them over to your inventory. Right-button your combat hands to attack a foe. Right-button your spellbook to unleash a magic missile or lightning bolt. You can rest to recover from wounds or heal yourself via the arcane arts. Keys open doors. Doors lead to caverns. Caverns thin into passageways. Passageways end in junctions. Junctions connect with: doors. Etc. leads to etc.


The concept behind Hack is a sound one. Nigh-on infinite dungeons for those Beholder-starved adventurers. Can't go wrong. Portable codes to pass on to your friends. Lovely. Endless entertainment. Er...

It seems they've put Hack up in a half-way house between a full blown dungeon-o-rama and the Unlimited Adventures system. The latter simply took the old-fashioned Bard's Tale engine (ye may ken it with some disdain) and revitalised it in one fell swoop by giving the player full freedom to design everything - graphics, mazes, title screen, plot - the whole er nine furlongs. Hack misses the point totally; it's all or nothing in this game. By only being able to increase or decrease various elements in the game and not, as we all want, completely design our own adventure in the Eye Of The Beholder mould - maps, puzzles and all - Hack confines itself to a very limited audience.

Who, realistically, is going a play a dungeon drafted by their 'chum' when you know the only variation will be the number of illusionary walls or magic traps or pits or whatever? Who, realistically, is going to find increasing the number of undead or puzzles in a dungeon tantamount to actually, creatively making a dungeon all on their lonesome? Only a very sad, limited and unimaginitive person, that's who. We, the thinking majority, want to design our own puzzles, our own encounters, our own storyline and not simply minutely vary somebody else's theme. And, anyway, people only put themselves through these dungeon epics, not because the 'action' keeps their backside hovering precariously over the lip of their chair, but because they feel the excitement of exploration and are given the sense that they are testing their limits and, most importantly, because they feel they are part of some great plan. The dungeon has been cleverly orchestrated, the puzzles and monsters neatly choreographed, the whole thing set up by some unseen foe to test their mettle. A randomly-generated dungeon, which can be different each time, doesn't present these essentials. It doesn't present anything except the chance of more random dungeons beyond, with no great script or purpose to bind it together or encourage you to go on.


If you're looking for the next great dungeon epic, a sort of Lands of Lore married to Dungeon Master but copping off with Eye Of The Beholder on the sly, then you'll have to look much further. Hack offers no more than a continuous and unimaginative outpouring of atypical dungeons which, minus the gelling agents (plot, sense of purpose, clever human programmer sticking in some bastard puzzles), doesn't really hold together as a dungeon adventure or a dungeon designer.

16 Million-Billion-Zillon

ack offers you the chance of spontaneously creating a squillion random dungeons, each one constructed around the needs of your character's class (mage dungeons are packed with scrolls; thieves' labyrinths are chock-a-block with pickable doors). In addition, with some deft handling of the sliders, you can increase the number of levels (from ten to 25), the number of monsters, food availability, key frequency and, indeed, all the things on the accompanying screenshot. The Death Real option ups the excitement factor of a dungeon by preventing load-a-saved-game-when-you-pop-your-clogs possibilities. Once you've set up your elements, a code (or 'seed') is generated which can then be given to your chums (as if).

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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