DROP—System Breach is an “action strategy hacking simulator with puzzle and roguelike elements” developed by Hungarian indie studio Etherlight Studio. In the cyberpunk future, digital life takes place in enclaves. You are an ambitious hacker and start your way to fame and money despite the risks. Between the missions, some of which can be selected, a story develops around several competing factions and a mysterious data package that you have downloaded. I grabbed the controller recommended for DROP – System Breach to control and hacked loose.
|Several protection systems are running at the same time during this drop. Use LT/RT to jump between your active programs.|
Gentle entry and basic principle
Basically, in DROP – System Breach you complete one mission after the other. Hacking into someone else’s system is a so-called “drop”. You start on your own computer. There is always a main goal, for example to inject malware or steal data from a certain person, and a secondary goal. For example, getting out of the system quickly, not increasing the alarm level or downloading all shares with a monetary value. Completing the task earns you money.
The time for the drop starts as soon as you enter the network from your own system. To do this, you also move to the corresponding node and start a thread (process). You use the gamepad to jump from node to node over lanes and start a thread to unlock it. Only then can you move on. However, due to forks, you can run processes in multiple nodes. Many hubs have nodes. There are, for example, the shares or computers of people you are looking for. If you have carried out a process on the computer nodes, you will find out who owns it and, depending on the mission, you can then install malware, for example. As soon as the main objective is fulfilled, you can leave the system again.
The networks in DROP are not completely defenseless. You have to deal with increasingly complex defense systems, but you also upgrade yourself.
|You can upgrade hardware and software between missions.|
Difficulty and progression at DROP
DROP – System Breach confronts you again and again with new security systems. They are introduced with information boards that you can read again at any time in the menu. Security systems are active or passive. You can deactivate active systems on the corresponding node, sometimes there are several, with a mini-game. Once all are disabled, the system is off. Then the attacks on your firewall will stop. Enemy processes are also displayed in the interface and you can jump to them with LB/RB to prevent them, for example an overload. You cannot stop passive systems. This is how ICE nodes freeze and you have to “unfreeze” them with a process before you can interact with them.
Steam Deck Check: DROP – System Breach
DROP runs technically flawlessly on the Steam Deck. The texts are easy to read and the controls are designed for a gamepad anyway. The gameplay makes DROP the perfect game for the Steam Deck, no matter if you just want to throw in a few drops or start a slightly longer session. However, there doesn’t seem to be any cloud saves (yet?), so you can’t switch between PC and deck.
In addition to attacks on the firewall, logging is a major problem. The log server records every process you perform. If there are too many, the alarm level rises. Here, as elsewhere in DROP – System Breach, there are helpful acoustic (warning) signals.
While you initially have to delete the recordings manually using processes, you can later use a cleaner program to do this. You install this on the log server, where it then automatically cleans up. If there are several log servers, you can install it on several. Other programs “heal” the firewall or siphon the shares on their own, which is a great relief. But programs need energy, so you have to hack energy nodes first.
If you invest your money appropriately, you can start with some energy. I quickly invested in energy to be able to install programs on the firewall and log server right away. I use my third “starting energy” to suck off shares immediately. In general, you can do a lot with money. So you can buy a tool that shows you the mission goal as soon as it is found. Very helpful! You can also upgrade the firewall, buy more processes, improve the CPU (which makes the processes run faster) or improve all programs so that, for example, the cleaner deletes log entries faster and you can move through the network undetected faster and faster. Sometimes, in order to advance, you also need to solve a very easy mini-game to open the node.
After the mission you cream off coal, get a little story, can save, invest and then plunge into the next mission. Before a mission you can look at the contract, the rewards and the protection systems in place.
|The very easy Tor puzzle is complicated by the visual issues caused by the Noise Matrix.|
DROP – System Breach is a kind of puzzle game at its core. You move faster and faster over the tracks of the foreign network, pay attention to more and more parameters and manage them. The progression is smooth and the time limit is generous, resulting in a comfortable, low pressure. The individual missions usually last three to four minutes. Coupled with the cyberpunk music, a motivating, never frustrating game flow is created, oh what, a real flow: “Just one more drop”.
The story elements make the game world more tangible. If you’re in the mood for a motivating, slightly action-oriented puzzle game, you should definitely check out DROP – System Breach. The demo and my companion video embedded below will also help with purchasing advice.
- For beginners and advanced
- Price: not yet known (release is on 3/28/23)
- In one sentence: Hacker puzzle game with great flow and good progression.