App and game reviews by Mobilism's Android Reviews team
Feb 4th, 2016, 6:08 pm

Game: WazHack v1.3.2.1997
Developer: Waz
Category: Role Playing
Price: N/A
IAP: $0.99 - $2.99

WazHack is a brutally challenging, and often comical, 3D Rogue-like game with a unique side view perspective that effectively draws the player into a punishing realm of ridiculous mayhem. Based upon the core fundamentals and ideals of the legendary NetHack, lone Australian developer Waz cleverly melds that complex experience with a remarkable graphic depiction of the uncanny situations your character will ultimately endure. With the slogan "All the time in the world", WazHack encourages careful thought and utilization of inventory items and environment as the game is played in step time, allowing the player to make rational decisions versus catering to twitch reflexes of action titles. Given a single life with permanent death lingering around every corner, your task is to traverse the perilous dungeon levels to retrieve the Amulet of Zaw thousands of feet below the surface, then make your way back out of the dungeon in a miraculous feat of glory. As relatively simple as this goal sounds, legions of dangerous foes, fatal traps, diabolically cursed items, treacherous settings and Murphy's Law will accompany you every step of the way in your descent. As your character will inevitably die countless deaths in thousands of ways, the game isn't about winning or losing, but the entertaining tales generated throughout each futile journey.

WazHack offers 16 different core characters that are paired in 8 different classes as male and female counterparts; each pair being a separate in-app purchase, delivering many more options and allowing play to extend beyond 300 feet of the dungeon. Each character has randomly generated stats that are weighed to their relative attributes, along with alignment, that can be quickly re-rolled by selecting them as often as you like. You will also have a pet to aid you in your quest; the types vary depending on the chosen class of character. Given the ability to name your character and pet, choose your alignment and decide on your stats prior to dispatching, WazHack offers a solid role playing experience to suit your tastes. There are 9 different talents per character that can be upgraded as you gain levels, and using specific weapons and items will offer additional skill upgrades according to their usage over time, as well. Unlocking all character classes with this range of customization certainly surpasses NetHack's scope of starting options tenfold, while bolstering replay value exponentially. As I normally play either the Knight or the Wizard classes, those two characters alone ofter completely different experiences in regards to how they perform and function in the depths of the dungeon. Weapons and items are not restricted by class and may be utilized across the board, no matter which class you are playing. However, a Wizard won't be skilled in sword play and has little strength, while the Knight's intelligence won't help much with magical tomes, though I've had success in reading a few. It's also enjoyable to see items display on your character as you equip them, complete with cloth physics and smooth animations, which are very well done. You can truly play any character as you see fit and do things your way instead of being forced to cater to stereotypical class restrictions.

The dungeon is completely randomized with each run and features several types of varying environments throughout to keep things fresh. Almost immediately, giving a nod to NetHack, there is an optional split path in the dungeon with a detour through the perilous Dwarven mines to test your meddle and patience. Choosing this path will effectively demonstrate how the game prefers careful consideration with every move versus a simple and mindless full-frontal assault, which will normally result in an untimely death. There is a wealth of traps and interactive settings to engage, most of which will allow constructive and experimental use of items that will test your luck. With 300 unique types of items to accumulate, several different merchants offer shops to conduct commerce during adventures. Selling your loot frequently can afford you valuable items that just might save your character's life and prolong your difficult campaign for the Amulet of Zaw. Dungeon levels show markers for every 100 feet down and the automap is crucial for navigation, even displaying discovered traps and unopened doors and paths. Character control is delightfully intuitive, accurate and efficient utilizing just one finger to maneuver, jump and attack with no cumbersome D-Pad in sight. Between this fine level of simple control and the casual stress-free step time format, WazHack is oddly relaxing even in chaotic combat engagement. Your mind and energy are amply reserved for decisive tactics and clever use of inventory rather than fighting the game's controls or memorizing endless hotkeys.

With over 150 unique types of creatures crawling in the darkness to greet you, they can range from spell fodder to extremely difficult combatants that require wits, tactics and luck to defeat. Quite frequently you will be faced with mixed groups of creatures from all directions, while also contending with environmental hazards and equipped cursed items for a trifecta of humorous doom. Stacked afflictions and impossible odds provide completely different experiences each time you play, generating laughter occasionally from the absurdity of these situations. It's not uncommon to be simultaneously blind, levitating, poisoned and hallucinating while being attacked by bees, bats and floating eyes and dying of hunger in a completely dark passageway. As your inventory is usually packed with a bevy of items that could possibly solve a current dilemma, more frequently than not, it's a Pandora's box waiting to be opened. This adds to the charm of the game and also offers an elated feeling when you actually do survive these scenarios to descend to more wicked affairs. While multiplayer is supported in the Guild to where you may add friends to help aid in your quest, I did not test this option as there was too much to cover in single player mode. However, the difficulty does scale with more players in the game and will not be lenient on your character simply due to having a larger party involved. Regarding difficulty settings in general, there is only one mode offered with no way to tone down the challenge inherent in WazHack, but I find this method preferred to gain a better understanding of the high score list and to relate to experiences of other players more clearly.

The main interface is outstanding and very refreshing compared to NetHack's numerous hotkeys and bad layouts of other titles. Categorized buttons line the bottom of the screen, completely out of the way, that offer quick and efficient access to everything you need. Instead of pulling up a general inventory screen with hundreds of items, you can solely display potions, scrolls, edibles or the like to reduce scrolling time. Items in menus are intuitive and quick to use, consume and equip; often pulling up a submenu with several options from which to choose. The amount of information, control and options available are very remarkable in scope and thought out extremely well. Great use of the Unity engine has been employed to allow the player easy access to all the features, even with attractive designs, to keep the flow of the game steady. Ultimately, there is simply too much to list in this review regarding the interface, but it's also a pleasant discovery in itself and really demands accolades from a single developer of excellent design. As an important note, the game is generally visually dark throughout the dungeons and might be difficult to see in bright environments. As I play mostly at night in a dim setting, this isn't so much a problem in my experiences, but a lunch time run under fluorescent lights might pose some issues.

As there is so much content, endless game mechanics, complex character systems and convenient features to write about, but most is more enjoyable to discover yourself as you play. WazHack is a free download that lets you try a single character down to 300 feet only, but quite a bit can happen in that distance, especially gratuitous death. As the PC version is similar in nature, I find the Android version to be more comfortable with the touch controls and enjoying it wherever you see fit. Even with efficient use of screen real estate, I would have to suggest using a device of seven inches or higher to truly enjoy the game properly. Some phablets could easily apply, though I have some heat issues with my Nexus 7 2012 to where I only play one run per session. It's truly amazing how WazHack offers all this content in a small 30 megabyte package, and I am equally impressed with the file size of this game considering all it contains. Overall, especially with a single developer creating this rare gem, WazHack remains the only 3D title in the Rogue-like genre that does everything as it should be done. If you love role playing games featuring intense challenge and situational morbid humor, especially being a NetHack fan, this game is not to be missed at any cost.

  • An engaging and often comical role playing experience.
  • High replay value with 16 characters in 8 classes to choose.
  • Extremely challenging, which hardcore players will appreciate.
  • Multiplayer is supported to allow co-operative play with friends.
  • Thorough, robust and thoughtful design throughout the interface.

  • Some devices can get rather hot after 15 minutes of play.
  • Extremely challenging, which might frustrate some players.
  • Generally dark lighting render the game difficult to see in bright settings.

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Reviewer rating: Image
Device/OS used: Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note 3, Nexus 7 2012 / KitKat v4.4.2, KitKat v4.4.4, Lollipop v5.1.1

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Mobilism: WazHack v1.3.2.1997

Feb 4th, 2016, 6:08 pm