Note: Nethack can be downloaded from the links below this review. Its available for Linux, MS-DOS, Windows3.1, Windows 95/98/NT/2000/Me/XP, Macintosh, Amiga, OS/2 & Atari.
If there is a game that gives sex a run for its money, Nethack would be it. The longest game still in development; over 16 years at the time of writing; open source too. Salon.com thinks it’s the best game ever.
It’s all ascii characters. That’s 16 years of development spent on enhancing gameplay. And what a game it is.
Nethack hails to Dungeons and Dragons along with the whole rogue-like genre, but it’s a single-player game – no multiplayer as the name suggests. But it’s not just a hack and slash game either… in fact, if you try to kill everything you see, your game will not last long at all.
Choose a Class, race, gender and alignment and you’re dumped on the first floor of a randomly generated dungeon which you must descend to retrieve the elusive ‘amulet of yendor’, and escape alive. Your pet is there with you. Walk around, and the dungeon reveals doors, passages, stairwells, booby traps, gold coins, shops, villages, and monsters galore.
To call nethack complex would be an understatement. Nearly every key on the keyboard does something. Hold down Shift or Alt, and you’ve got more keys. Kick, Quaff, Wear, Open, Close, Loot, Drop, Eat, Fire, Read, Engrave, Teleport, Zap, Look, Inventory, Chat, Rub, Equip, Pray, Wish, just to name a few. Eat the corpse of a giant eye and put on a blindfold and you’ll see every monster on the level but not walls. Teach your pet to steal items from a store for you. Or pay by credit card if you’re a tourist. Kill a monster, and save it’s yummy or not so yummy corpse for later picking it up… but it might go rotten so use your tinning kit to pack it into a tin 🙂 Heck, there are even kitchen sinks! And believe me, there are so many other ‘spoilers’ I could tell you…
Honestly, you’ve never played a game quite like Nethack. You’ll find yourself coming back again and again trying to defeat the dungeons. Once you figure out the commands you can use (The ? key is your friend) you’ll be hacking your way thru the dungeons of doom faster than you can say ‘cockatrice’!
If you download the windows version, you can run nethackw.exe and you’ll get a graphical tile version of the game, but use the map menu to change to something a bit more rogue-like 🙂
Not convinced? PlanetFargo takes you on a funny guided tour of Nethack.
- MobyGames: Nethack
Read all about it on MobyGames.
- Wikipedia: Nethack
Read all about it on Wikipedia.
The Official Nethack site where you can grab yourself a copy of this very, very cool game!
You'll find all the guides, documentation, versions, platforms and everything you could ever ever want for nethack here.
- Designed by: Nethack DevTeam
- Published by: Nethack DevTeam