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DROP – System Breach Review – Cyber Hacks

DROP – System Breach is an action-strategy hacking simulator, developed by Etherfield Studio and published by MicroProse, that will launch on March 28, 2023, on Steam. I played the demo last month and the simple, yet in-depth gameplay mixed with unique visual effects was an interesting premise that got better the more I played. I found the missions in the demo got quite frantic really quickly which was in contrast when playing the full game. The tutorials do well to ease you into all the different hacking methods and network protocols that will try block your hacking attempts. All the while, the electronic soundtrack sets the mood as you get into your hacking groove.

We start off with $750 and a simple hacking cyberdeck doing odd jobs on the street making a name for ourselves. As we complete missions and start earning money, a cash shop opens up that allows you to initially buy upgrades to your threads (allows you to perform multiple processes at once), and your CPU (making processes occur faster). Later into the game we can also purchase software that can help automate some of the tasks we need to perform, such as collecting data and healing our firewall.

We are only given a choice between a few missions from various factions, so it never feels overwhelming for choice, and each mission shows the primary and secondary objectives as well as what security systems to expect from the network. Once we accept a mission, we jump into the network interface where we move along the grid, activating stations and any new station we come to will have a concise tutorial prompt about it. Sometimes we will be looking for personnel files or exploring the entire network before the 5-minute timer is up. While others have you extracting data or disabling camera. As we start to target more high-profile networks, the complexity of security systems increases.

Eventually hacking communities such as the Swarm want you to work for them and this is when the game got really engaging. It switches from just extracting simple data to disabling doors, camera and elevators which made me feel a bit like Tank from the Matrix, ensuring quick infiltration of the network before raising alert levels. The game recommends you play with a controller which is how I played the demo, but I used the keyboard for the full game playthrough and got used to the controls pretty quickly. Once you unlock some of the automated programs, it allows you to focus on the objectives more efficiently.

However, as we start to use more of these automated programs and hack more complex networks, there is a higher risk of alert and your firewall being directly attacked. Audible beeps get faster as your load increases and the firewall health decreases. You can warp quickly back to repair the firewall and this takes up your threads. If your firewall health depletes and the Nexus attacked, the mission fails. This is amplified by other threats such as overload points that you need to deactivate, because if left alone that too will chip away at your firewall.

It gets quite intense as you progress the game and it’s a credit to the sound design for adding to that intensity. The background music is also perfectly suited to the cyberpunk hacking theme, as is the overall aesthetic of the game. All the information you need is presented clearly, and it keeps your focus on the network pathways you need to explore. The game looks simple from the outside but quickly becomes quite challenging.

Overall, DROP – System Breach is an engaging hacking simulator set in a cyberpunk world that gradually increases in complexity and risk. We slowly earn enough money to gain automated processes that frees you up to concentrate on primary tasks and there’s a great sense of progression as your skills increase.

This review utilised a key provided by MicroProse and DROP – System Breach will launch on Steam on March 28, 2023.


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