Hack the system
Mainlining initially released on Steam back in 2017, but has since seen a release on the Nintendo Switch via the eShop. An intriguing point and click and problem solving game that caught me my surprise.
This review for Mainlining was from a retail Switch key provided to Geek.Sleep.Rinse.Repeat from Evolve PR via Terminals.
Background of the game
Following the government’s introduction of the BLU Pill Act and the Secret Intelligence Service’s reintroduction of MI7, all online personal data is accessible by the powers that be. Mainlining questions techno-ethics and asks whether it is acceptable for an organisation to have the power to look at personal data-What if somebody else had access to that information?
What do you do?
As you work for MI7, it is your job to scroll through websites, map locations, vehicle databases and the like to track down enough evidence and information to confirm arrests on criminals. You have access to email, a command prompt hacking tool, internet and files and folders that are downloadable when required. You need to decipher clues and finally make confirmations on your suspect with enough evidence to warrant their arrest. All this is done from the safety of your office desktop which is modelled to resemble a Windows XP desktop. Your hack tool via command prompt takes some time to get use to the commands, but from here you can hack IP’s from websites to gain access to user names, passwords and documents. It’s all really quite intriguing.
To make an arrest you need to ensure you have a name, a location and evidence. Any arrest attempts made without these or if you make an incorrect arrest go by unpunished, which is a little odd. You’d suspect that there would be some kick backs to incorrect arrests. The process usually starts from receiving an email containing a website to check out. From here it’s up to the player to figure out the steps needed to get the correct person and make the arrest. This is done from using the variety of commands within the hack tool command prompt software. You IP Hack the websites, you can download documents from the users, retrieve login details for other websites. It’s really pretty fun and you can spend quite some time on the cases checking the details out thoroughly.
Look and feel
As mentioned the entirety of the game takes place from your virtual desktop which is a throwback to the technology of yesteryear. Your initial login lets you choose which profile to login, the familiar windows XP startup music chimes in (although slightly altered obviously) and your IM opens up automatically to connect you with your colleagues who will mock you or congratulate you as you work more evidence out from cases throughout the day. It has to be said the look is really cool, I enjoyed the detail that was put into trying to recapture the desktops of old.
This game I can only imagine worked gloriously on Steam, however on the Nintendo Switch it is rather quite awkward. Using the analogue stick to control a mouse to move across the screen isn’t easy, and the mouse movement is rather slow. A keyboard has been added to the Switch version of the game, but it’s a broken in half keyboard with the left joy con using the left half of the keyboard with the right joy con controlling the other half of the keyboard. Its rather quite confusing to get to grips with. Also the buttons on the right joy con are quite inconvenient with one popping the keyboard up when required (which is handy) but another button clears the desktop completely and closes programs you had open, which I hit far too many times than I care to admit.
I was also quite wound up with the autosave function. If there even is one? Upon clearing the first 2 cases I ‘shut down’ the PC so to speak, so this takes you back to the main menu where you can access a profile to log back in again, this is the equivalent of selecting a saved game. Well my profile loaded up and started me back on case 1. Which frustrated me. Now knowing how to complete case 1 and 2 quickly I did so and not ready to tackle case 3, did the same again back out assuming the save disc icon that appeared meant my progress had been saved…. Nope. I had to do cases 1 and 2 again. So this really dampened my experience with the game sadly.
Also the lack of a starting tutorial. I genuinely couldn’t figure out this split keyboard lark upon creating my account for the system and couldn’t figure out which button resulted in confirming a key press on the keyboard. Never have I felt so dumb at the early stages of a game before.
Pros and Cons
+ Excellent representation of a dated workstation
+ Really enjoyable researching websites and hacking to get the evidence
+ Funny, It contains lots of humour, especially from your colleagues via the IM window
– It could do with a few more cases to solve
– Tutorial is definitely required
– Its really quite clunky control wise for the Switch
– I have no idea how to save the game, or if autosave ever works
Mainling is a very enjoyable point and click, cyber sleuth game. I found the cases interesting and varied enough. The cases vary in length to crack dependant on how observant you are and ensuring you make the most out of the tools at your disposal. Understanding the hacking tool and memorising the command prompts is essential. I do think however the controls for this Switch port are quite rough, despite the best efforts with the keyboard mechanic. And I have no idea what is going on with the saving or autosaving function. I really enjoyed the workstation that was created to play the entirety of this game from though, and the investigating work for the cases I found entertaining despite the control mechanics.