Bite-sized Review
Drop - System Breach

Developer: Etherfield Studio

Release Date: 28 March, 2023 

Platform: Windows

Genre: SImulation

By Chris Picone, 18 March 2023

Any child of the 80s/90s loves the idea of "netrunning" - somehow manoeuvring through raw data systems, fighting off enemy ICE, hiding behind a firewall, hacking through defences, and taking control. It's an intoxicating idea that DROP simulates remarkably well. 


Graphics are minimalist but slick and informative.  Everything revolves around interconnected nodes, each of which being surrounded by little symbols that identify whether that node has data or is an energy source or is being attacked by enemy daemons.  The UI is efficient and tells you everything you need to know at a glance.  Has a decent soundtrack but, more importantly, the sound effects feed you information - you can hear little plinkets as the data trickles in, and a lower but often more rapid beat as you're attacked by enemy countermeasures, Warning notes sound as your firewall collapses or you start running out of time and it all adds to the intensity of the experience. 



The core game revolves around moving from node to node trying to achieve your mission objective, which might be to install a virus on a specific client's machine, to collect data, to control cameras and doors to enable access for your physical counterparts, or simply to explore a system. While moving around you will be blocked by gates and attacked by countermeasures.  If you don't conceal your movements, the alarms are raised, and if you don't protect your firewall and remove potential threats, your nexus will be breached and it's game over.  Time is critical - take too long and you get caught.  The game starts slowly but gets pretty intense in later missions.  An overmap features, a functional device that lets you visit the shop or select your next mission at the click of a button.  There are tons of upgrades - hardware upgrades that improve your firewall, your processing speed, your RAM to let you run more processes at once, and stacks of programs and daemons you can purchase to give you greater abilities.  What there isn't is tons of cash.  You'll never have enough money for everything so you have to be choosy about what you buy, which is great as it lets you focus your hacking style.  Finally, between each mission you'll receive messages from your employers, some of whom are in opposing factions, revealing an over-arching story that ties the game together nicely.



If you've ever played Shadowrun or watched a hacking movie and thought, "that looks exciting!" this is the game for you.  Progress is slow but each mission is more intense than the last and it really lets you live that pseudo-hacking experience.