Publisher: Merge Games
Genre: Adventure, Other, Simulation
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: PEGI 12
Release Date: 20/06/19
Price: £11.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Nearly every individual thinks it would be cool to be a hacker. To be able to utilise the world wide web to find out personal and important information about others is a thrilling concept. While some people out there would be honing their hacking skills with malicious intent, some good-hearted humans would be hackers to bring justice to those evildoers using the web for dark schemes, destructive behaviour, and terrible criminal activity. The port of Rebelephant’s point-and-click hacker simulation to Nintendo Switch will allow gamers to do just that – hack with the ultimate goal of protecting the innocent, everyday internet users.
The Government has made some massive changes that allowed the Secret Intelligence Service to reintroduce the M17, better known as a team that has access to all online personal data. The player is a new agent at the M17 with the duty to assist in gathering evidence on suspected wrongdoers via hacking into their computers so that hopefully they can be locked up for as long as possible.
For each case, the player will need to recover three critical pieces of information before issuing the arrest: the suspect’s real name, their current location, and the piece of evidence to prove their guilt. The criminal’s sentence can vary depending on the type of evidence used for the arrest, allowing them to be imprisoned for five years, fifteen years, or twenty-five years. Thankfully, the game provides a general outline for what type of evidence will trigger which sentence length, so be ready to dig deep into the web.
Now, this game presents itself masterfully, mimicking the screen of a computer running an older version of Windows. It feels so true to its art, to the point that it makes the Nintendo Switch look and feel like a proper computer, including the sound effects to match. This makes a lot of sense for the game on PC, where it was initially released back in early 2017; however, on the Switch, even though it looks really neat, it performs terribly.
The player has a cursor much like on a computer, but it’s so hard to land its precise tip on small pieces of the screen (example: window scroll bars) with both the console’s control stick and the touch screen method. On top of that, there isn’t a keyboard attached to the console, meaning the developers had to integrate it onto the screen, splitting it in half so that each control stick manages one half of the keyboard. It’s not entirely responsive, a fact that’s noticeable when the player will press specific keys, and they don’t trigger anything, and it’s always in the way.
A computer screen is tough enough to handle with five tabs open, imagine fitting that all on to the tiny screen of a Switch (or the television when docked) plus the on-screen digital keyboard. Honestly, it’s a frustrating mess, and it makes trying to jump from webpage to webpage, file finder to new programs, etc. all too difficult to enjoy.
There’s not much depth to the actual gameplay of Mainlining. Represented by one-note character personalities, the lack of repercussions for wrongful arrests, the high susceptibility of becoming repetitious mechanically, the general lack of assistance for a player who gets stuck and has no idea what to do next, and the subsequent lack of any replayability after a case has been solved. Furthermore, there are certainly times where the game assumes that the player has some knowledge of computers and their inner-workings, so while it may be 2019, most of the game should be better laid out in plain language for those looking to dive in and enjoy.
To briefly resume praising Mainlining, the story of the game is locked and loaded with a thrill in each of its cases. While the cases aren’t exactly tied together for one cohesive narrative, each case does manage to become a tougher challenge logistically and require more in-depth research and digging from the player. Plus, nothing feels better than busting an online criminal and serving them just desserts. In addition to the strong stories, the game is blessed with many creative puns and humorous jabs that sprinkle in a bit of light-hearted fun, taking just a small amount of the pain away from the rest of the game’s staggering issues.
It would be very easy to imagine that Mainlining is a solid title executed very well on PC, but its port over to the Nintendo Switch is not exactly fit for the console. Between the port’s poor design choices and the bundle of bugs found throughout, Mainlining could be considered one of the most infuriating and technically deficient Indie games to make its way over to Nintendo’s latest console.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Mainlining from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Mainlining-1573331.html#Overview