Inspired by the computer mainframe version of Rogue, Hack features the same basic game design and interface, but introduces new elements such as shops to purchase items. Like Rogue, Hack is a turn-based role-playing game that uses ASCII text to depict the environment in which your character, represented by an "at" symbol, explores. Controls involve typing various two-key commands to move, attack, and so forth, with a description of the results appearing at the top of the screen. Your hero can interact with and store a number of items while exploring a randomly generated dungeon in search of a legendary object named the Amulet of Yendor. If your hero should die, a completely new adventure will be generated the next time you play.
Hack is the precursor to NetHack, both members of the family of text-based Rogue-like games. The gameplay of Rogue and its descendants is the quintessential computer role-playing game (RPG): Choose a character class and venture forth into the dungeon to fight monsters and gain treasure.
Like all descendants of Rogue, Hack is displayed from a top-down view, painted with text characters. The player ventures throughout the dungeon, visiting rooms connected by thin corridors. Gameplay is turn-based, with the turn beginning with the player's action (move, attack, eat, cast spell, etc.). Commands are mapped to various letters of the keyboard, including "i" for inventory, "e" for eat food, etc. with one exception: Attacking a monster involves running into it, so the "attack" function shares the same keys as movement.
Hack is one of the first significant deviations from Rogue, notable by the rich interaction possible in the game world: Simple actions result in complex (yet logical) reactions. For example, it is not uncommon to throw a boomerang only to miss the target and have it return to hit the player; or kill a monster that has the ability to turn you to stone as an attack, then accidentally step on its carcass on the way out and turn to stone; or having a bolt of fire from a magic wand ricochet around the room, hit the player, and cause his magic scrolls to catch on fire; etc. In addition, monsters and objects have secondary, hidden properties; for example, killing and eating a leprechaun will result in the player randomly teleporting to different locations.
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