Sunday 16 July 2017


Michael Brough has just released an expansion to 868-HACK called PLAN.B and it's available on Steam as DLC and iOS as an in app purchase. Much like his recent Ossuary expansion to Imbroglio, I consider it pretty essential but for different reasons. Ossuary made the early game more interesting by allowing for a much greater variety of deck builds which were not necessarily game winning but were a lot more fun to play. This was great for a player like myself who wasn't likely to get to the end game but was looking for a fulfilling experience.

PLAN.B is instead for players with deep understanding of 868-HACK and who are looking for increased difficulty at the start, but more competitive long term play. Luckily, I also fall into this category so both releases have hit the sweet spot for my game skill. PLAN.B makes the game more difficult by having the deceptively named power ups occur from game one instead of appearing only after a few streak games. But at the same time it adds 8 new programs to give you more control. The cumulative effect is that while I feel like each run is harder (even just to survive) I've ended up playing longer streaks.

The new abilities are good but not essential (with the exception of .QUIT which is situational but vital given the power up changes) but they do a good job of filling the middle ground between a bad build and a good build in part by decreasing the overall likelihood of finding the 'perfect combination' and partly by adding cheap and useful ways of killing things (and I have no idea what .SAVE does but I'm okay with that). All but one, .CULL which is situational and expensive and while it has synergies, they're also expensive. I haven't tested .ICE/.CULL but that would make this useful if it works (and be the kind of enemy clamping, screen clearing ability that the name suggests it should be).

Of course, this wouldn't be a 'I love MichaelBrough's game' blog post without me trying to backseat design :)

(My urge to back seat design is worse than this post appears. I had written a longer post exploring two additional abilities, but ultimately that felt incredibly self indulgent).

I'm less sure PLAN.B is worth getting if you bounced on the original game, but if you managed at least a single streak score then this expansion is going to be a must have. The power ups fix many of the issues that single game score chasing scored by ramping up the difficulty enough to make high score chasing unpleasant and much more unpredictable and reducing the surprise of suddenly finding power ups affecting how you played (much in the same way that the jungle in Spelunky throws a difficulty curve ball).