Data Hacker: Reboot – What We Think
The third entry in an established series by New Reality Games, Data Hacker: Reboot sets the bar a little bit higher as it tells a tale with new characters and worlds to uncover within the same universe as the previous installments. While the game excels in bringing an envisioned world to life, the bugs and frustrating puzzles take the shine off what is otherwise a strong title in the series.
A Disturbing Reality
The player follows the story of Thanier as he searches for his lost sister, coming across new allies to aid in his quest as the story unfolds into a deeper and more intricate tale. It’s your standard RPG in this sense, and while narratively it doesn’t offer anything too mind-blowing, it does bring back the nostalgia of playing Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger. There’s that sense of going on an epic journey that is the trademark of most good RPGs, and Data Hacker: Reboot handles that idea very well.
The story is set within a universe that has been split into several different worlds, with the main hub being a town called Victorium. It is here that the player can truly perceive the dire circumstances that humanity has suffered through. A woman fades in and out of existence, begging for experience data, which is the only way she can remain whole. Another woman informs Thanier that those who battle constantly are the luckiest, for they’ll never have to worry about fading away.
The large majority of citizens are utterly bored—they don’t have the strength to fight and so must wait around in the town, sometimes pondering what would happen if they tried to kill themselves. Meanwhile, the ever-encroaching darkness that surrounds Victorium gets a little bit closer by the day. It’s a dismal world, but I had fun learning about it.
The characters are well-developed, if not a bit predictable. Thanier has a mind of his own, but the player is allowed to make choices as to what kind character he’ll be – the protector or the power-hungry, and so on. You’ll come across Damasc not long after, who joins your party as the youngest (and weakest) member. While he gets better after a lot of level grinding and class-changing, I ended up using him mostly to fling potions at me and steal things. It’s very evident that he’ll play an integral role later on in the story due to his age, and I’m interested to see how he’ll develop further as Thanier teaches him about killing people and other not-so-innocent things.
Battles, Buffs and Classes, Oh My
All battles are turn-based and can occur randomly or when you hit a moving creature called a cava while exploring the world. Battles are your standard fight or flee, with various options accessible via the battle menu. There are a number of skills and abilities that are learned while leveling up.
It’s your traditional battle system, but one neat little feature is the idea of data-hacking enemies in order to obtain temporary buffs. Monsters also drop chips, cores and augments that can be used to temporarily and permanently buff your characters as well.
One very interesting concept in the game is the ability for characters to build themselves into classes as they level up. This allows the player to build their team however they prefer, without any restrictions on how they want to play. I don’t need to keep Thanier a fighter if I don’t want to. I could shift him into a mage class, where he would then begin to learn new skills from that set. It’s a great way to allow for variety and battle based on how you want to build your dream team.
Colorful Backdrops and Sounds
The art style for the game is very colorful, with excellent usage of pixels to make a lush environment. There’s nothing better than dropping into a world of scenic overlooks and woodsy environments.
The sound effects and voice acting in the game are pretty fantastic, and incredibly fitting regardless of where you happen to be. One world is very…organic, so to speak, with pink and purple vines and throbbing alien fungi latched onto the ground. As a result, the music used is very ominous, as if you’re inside a living, breathing thing.
Voice acting is top notch and utilized very well when a battle starts. Grunts, cries and sharp snippets of sentences are all heard throughout the battle. And it just works. The sound of a sword slicing through enemies is so satisfying! And while the sounds do not vary much, I never grow tired of hearing them.
There were some puzzles that just didn’t make sense as I played through one of the areas. In one level, a door needed to be unlocked to get to a monster. Now, this monster was very important, as it was the last one needed to summon a boss. Unfortunately, there was literally nothing to suggest that I already had the necessary item to unlock the door. In fact, I hadn’t even known that the item could be interacted with! There were no hints, leaving me to look around for answers online.
The moment I used this item was also the moment the game became ultra buggy. I found myself walking through doors, walking right off the map, and unable to access other doors in the area. It was really frustrating as a player to have spent all the time grinding enemies and solving puzzles, only to find that I was unable to get into the area I needed to go.
I’ve found that the auto-dash feature is bugged as well. Most of the time it doesn’t work, leaving the player to trudge along slowly from place to place. A minor but consistent inconvenience that hinders gameplay greatly.
The game has a promising story and an intricate world that I want to explore, but the bugs left me flustered enough to rage-quit the game. And while I appreciate not having my hand held while I go through the game, there were moments where I desperately needed to look at outside resources for help, which shouldn’t be necessary. It was a frustrating experience which took me completely out of the story. While I’m certain that fans of the series and RPG enthusiasts will still enjoy this title, Data Hacker: Reboot sadly left me rather disappointed.
Watch the trailer for Data Hacker: Reboot below: