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Game Review #370: Mainlining (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Steven Green

Developer: Rebelephant

Publisher: Merge Games

Category: Simulation/ Hacking Adventure

Release Date: 06.20.2019

Price (at time of review): $14.99

Buy Mainlining from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Computer Hacker Simulator

In Mainlining you will take part in an interesting take on the point-and-click genre by playing through the eyes of the protagonist as they operate their computer. You will traverse the computer’s various programs as you take part in the newly rebooted MI7 and will have the ability to access anyone’s data as you wish. The BLU Pill Act has been enacted, and the Secret Intelligence Service has you on the case. With ethical questions abound you will play through an adventure that will make you question the future of society, and what it will bring with the onset of more and more advanced technology.

Read Entry

This game takes you to what seems like a present/future setting in which you have hackers with the ability to go into the web and infiltrate systems that will allow for full access to information of the various targets you have, but the game’s aesthetic is a call-back to PCs of old, which is a bit confusing. However, with all the fun stuff and dark humor you will find yourself working through a story that is interesting, and something that I was glad I was able to play through. My only negative to this is having to do so much digging to find what you need and to get to the nuggets that make the game so enjoyable in that sense.

IP Attack

Mainlining has you trying to find criminals by going through their IP addresses, taking dumps of files and as much information as you can gather, and having you read through tons of information to find the key pieces of information that can lead to a conviction. Sadly, this process is somewhat lackluster despite the original set up for a game like this. Hacking is not exciting and is something that basically just happens with the click of a mouse, and from there you are just doing a ton of reading and information gathering. After finding that crucial evidence you just move on to the next case and repeat the process over again. The game is interesting overall, and the story allows for some interesting finds and Easter Eggs throughout, but the gameplay itself isn’t something that will blow many away.

Take Me Back

The bright spot for this title is the creative and interesting graphical style it has chosen to use. This wasn’t the first title I’ve played to use the 90’s computer style, but this game definitely is one of the better ones. You have callbacks to websites of old, and the art style and design is very well done. I honestly felt that I was looking at a PC from back in the day, but alas I still had my Switch in my hand. This is definitely what called me to this title in the first place, and with such an interesting area to play around in it definitely helps in a title that has a few bumps along the way.

PC Please

As is commonplace with adventure titles of the point-and-click variety it can be a tough transition over to the console space. This game follows those trends, sadly. You move a mouse around the screen with your joystick, and button mapping is slightly odd with choices like “Enter” being the plus button and clicking with the bumpers being different than clicking with the A button when operating the keyboard. They also made the decision to have a split keyboard in order to allow for better screen viewing, but this means you need to use both joysticks to maneuver either side and use the bumpers as mentioned to actually type on the corresponding sides. This all can be learned, and once you have it down it isn’t too bad, but it is very cumbersome, and the barrier to entry will make for a frustrating beginning for most people. Touch controls allow for a little bit better of an experience in handheld mode, but a small keyboard on the Switch’s already not big screen makes for some issues with typing and mis-clicking. This is definitely a game - along with the setting in general - that makes more sense on your PC than on your Switch.

In closing…

Mainlining is a game that intrigued me with its unique visual style and art design. You will be transported back to the AOL era, and if you grew up in that time period it will definitely allow for nostalgia to come from all aspects of this title. Great Easter Eggs throughout and some dark humor allow for enough breaks in the monotonous gameplay for you to delve deep into the setting, but with a lacking control/UI scheme, and a ton of repetition you have a title that brings a lot to the table, but doesn’t take advantage of the charm it brings out. Anyone who likes computer simulation titles like Emily Is Away, nostalgic call-backs, or is into the idea of the dark web/hacking will want to give this game a look, but I would sadly suggest looking more so at a PC version rather than grabbing it on Switch.

Score: 6/10

Buy Mainlining from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Merge Games

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