Texting, hacking and social engineering are three concepts that describe Telltale Games and Night School Studio’s mobile gaming take on the hit USA Network show “Mr. Robot.”
In “Mr. Robot: 1.51exfiltrati0n,” players assume the role of a Coney Island vacationer who stumbles upon an old smartphone on the floor, picks it up and unwittingly wanders into a brewing cyber revolution.
The game was released in mid-August. named “1.51exfiltrati0n.apk” for Android and “1.51exfiltrati0n.ipa” for Apple, a stylistic nod to Android and Apple’s respective application file formats.
The game allows players to have a taste of the hacker world of the “Mr. Robot” television show through a series of texts.
Over the span of a few days, players, either willingly or unwillingly depending on their dialogue choices, help the original owner of the smartphone, Darlene, retrieve an important file that was deleted on the phone through text conversations on a messaging app by E-Corp, a fictional corporation from the television series.
For those familiar with the show, Darlene is no stranger. Sharp-witted, snide and sarcastic, Darlene is a hacker who engages with players and occasionally assists them with tasks. These tasks range from eliciting login information from a complete stranger to manipulating an information technology technician to install an exploit to a company’s servers.
Along the way, the player is instructed to pose as Darlene. The player then meets a person named “E” for whom players do hacking favors. The player also communicates with a mysterious blocked contact who is probably the actual Mr. Robot.
The game is programmed to be spaced out over a minimum of a few days. After finishing one task or dialogue, a few hours of idle time may pass before the next task or next dialogue option spawns.
The graphics are simple; the interface is a typical-looking texting application.
Moreover, texting is the driving mechanic of the game. While players aren’t allowed to type their own responses, players are given at most three dialogue options to choose from.
What ultimately makes the game interesting is the fun from manipulating and obtaining confidential information from strangers, albeit imaginary strangers, through social hacking. Although questionable in reality, for once in many players’ lives, they have a hand at social engineering and possibly ruining some fictional people’s lives in the process.
This game, which takes place roughly after episode five of the first season of “Mr. Robot,” may be especially enjoyable for those who have watched the show.
The game’s scriptwriters successfully captured the essence of Darlene’s snarky character. The dialogue with Darlene and other characters felt natural and realistic. This made for fun, sometimes irritating, yet believable conversations.
Other supporting characters that players briefly interact with have complex backgrounds that made them seem like real people. It reflects the show, which touches upon the individuality of people’s interests and lives.
The small details, like the fact that players’ chosen responses are typed out in real time and include spelling errors and profile pictures of real people, also make the game a bit more immersive and true to life.
However, it was not perfect and there were some negative aspects of the game.
For a $2.99 mobile game, the game seemed short. When players successfully retrieve Darlene’s prized deleted file, Darlene thanks them, and the game ends and automatically restarts.
This may leave players with a feeling of “That was it?”
The game ends rather abruptly, and scriptwriters missed some plot development opportunities.
The game’s setup might have brought on these limitations. Players in the game are only vacationers who stumble upon a hacker’s phone; thus, they do not have much reason to know more about Darlene after they retrieve her file.
The game demonstrates an illusion of choice because no matter what dialogue choices they make, players will always meet the same ending. What would differ is how they talk their way to that ending, but that’s about it.
That leads to another negative: its low replay value. After the first play-through of the game, some players might replay it to see what other choices would have brought them. But after a second play-through, players have little to no incentive to replay the game again.
Future installments that go more in-depth could remedy this problem, but as it is right now, the length and the small, limited plot are shortcomings to a well-written game.
However, the well-written dialogue and fantastic character development within the short period of time overshadows the negatives.
Conversations seemed so real that a character telling players to “go to hell” actually feels offensive, and seeing Darlene texting goodbye evokes a bittersweet moment.
“Mr. Robot: 1.51exfiltrati0n” is an intriguing game that keeps players anticipating the next E-Corp messaging notification.
“Mr. Robot: 1.51exfiltrati0n” is for players age 17 and older for frequent/intense alcohol, tobacco, or drug use or references; infrequent/mild sexual content and nudity; frequent/intense profanity or crude humor; and frequent/intense mature/suggestive themes.
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