Black Ice Preview

Black Ice is a cyberpunk styled first person shooter from Super Duper Game Company that is currently available on Steam Early Access. You play as a 80’s “Hollywood style” hacker, who must “jack in” and do nefarious stuff in a neon/techno CGI cyberspace. We saw Black Ice at two consecutive PAX Souths, and got a key to check out the current version from developer Garrett Cooper.

agent86 and EBongo took Black Ice for a spin over on YouTube, check it out!

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Black Ice takes its cues from 80’s and 90’s hacker movies, when CGI was still in its infancy. The 80’s were a crazy time when people thought that in the future, everything needed to be neon colors. Movies like Tron, Johnny Mnemonic, Hackers, War Games, and many more depicted the future of computing as some sort of brightly colored, wireframe, interactive world that’d we’d walk around in, VR style. For some reason, that vision of the future never quite caught on, although with the recent rise of VR (again…) maybe someday it will?

At any rate, until the glorious future (of walking around floating data cubes while wearing funky, futuristic silver gloves and massive headsets) becomes reality, we can still relive the glory of those neon hackathons with Black Ice. Black Ice is a first-person shooter with RPG elements and randomized loot. There are a few similarities with, say, the Borderlands series, although Black Ice definitely forges its own path.

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The core of Black Ice is hacking servers. Servers are represented as towering black monoliths with neon highlights. After you approach a server and begin a hack, you have to stay within a certain radius of the server while defeating its defensive programs. These anti-hacker countermeasures take several forms, like crabs, spiders, jellyfish, and scorpions. After the hack completes, you collect your XP and loot. Lather, rinse, and repeat until your hacker levels up to the point where you can hack “Finality, Inc” at around level 100.

The weapons and other gear in Black Ice are procedurally generated from a set of archetypes – stuff like sniper rifles, machine guns, laser rifles, shotguns, and so forth. Just like in Borderlands or Diablo, your gear can give you passive bonuses in addition to doling out massive spider-slaughtering DPS. If you find gear you just don’t want, you can sell it to shops and use your credits to buy something you like better.

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In addition to straight-up damage, you could also spec into minions, who can be summoned to fight for you. In fact, the programs launched by servers can be tricked into fighting each other – start multiple hacks and hide in a corner, and they’ll duke it out Darwin-style, until only the strongest survive.

There’s a nearly infinite number of servers to hack, and for the time being that’s most of what you’ll do in Black Ice. Find a server that you think you can take, hack it, grab your loot, move on to hacking the next server. There are a few other challenges that have been added to the game, most notably “jumping puzzle” servers that make you follow a thin path around the outside of the server to get on top, where some free loot awaits.

It’s also possible to team up with other players in the online co-op and versus modes. Co-op mode is a ton of fun, as you can see from our stream of the game.

Currently, there’s not much in the way of stories or quests to undertake. There is a full set of achievements already, though. More story and quest content, plus more achievements are already in the plan.

Black Ice
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Release:Early Access (Since 2014)
Price:$14.99
Our Thoughts:

Most of what I want to see from Black Ice as it moves through Early Access is more variety. Right now, it’s a game that is best enjoyed in shorter bursts, although it does have a sort of “just one more hack” quality to it. With as solid as the core mechanics are, I can see the outline of something really awesome here.

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