Hacker Evolution and its sequel, Hacker Evolution: Untold, are hacking games by exosyphen studios, released in 2007 and 2008. They are a Spiritual Successor to Uplink except with less of a Wide Open Sandbox and more of a tighter focus on storytelling. The second game is notable for having customizable map pictures for each mission, so that the game can simulate hacking individual devices in a single building and what not.
A third, RTS-esque game, Hacker Evolution: Duality has recently been released.
This game series provides examples of the following tropes:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The main plot of both games
- Disproportionate Retribution: In Hacker Evolution: Untold, John kills Brian's family just because of a bit of hacking!
- Drought Level of Doom: Operation Electrosphere, included with the Steam version of Hacker Evolution, gives a large cash sum of $50000. The following three final levels have no money, and a minimum of one third of the lump sum needs to be spent for removing your trace.
- Dynamic Difficulty: An option enables the dynamic difficulty factor in the game. Although one manual included with the game says it's not clear what it does, it multiplies the bit-length of decryption keys. The dynamic difficulty is calculated based on upgraded hardware, which has a flaw when you upgrade your stock system to have a class 2 firewall (increasing dynamic difficulty), then upgrade by adding a 1 Ghz CPU (reducing dynamic difficulty to default).
- Fighting a Shadow: John Davis in the first game is actually a decoy for Xenti's AI
- Gone Horribly Right: In Hacker Evolution: Untold, Xenti's AI was originally supposed to be an automatic marketing tool. It starts killing people who are resistant to marketing.
- Instant-Win Condition: Completing all objectives advances you to the next level after a 15 second delay, even if you still have tasks you want to perform (e.g. transfer money from remote servers.) The sequel instead allows you to continue the hacking session for 10 minutes, which is more than enough time to finalize other tasks.
- It's Personal: John in the second game
- Kick the Dog: John in the second game
- Password Slot Machine: While the decoding process is not shown on-screen, it behaves as if characters/bits are decoded one at a time.
- Phone-Trace Race: Computer hacker variant. While attempting to crack passwords, decrypt keys or obtain money, the task needs to be done within a time. You can extend the time using server bounces or getting a firewall. Failing the trace gives a major penalty to the trace meter, although success still causes a slight increase.
- The Singularity: The plot of the second game.
- Temporal Paradox: The first game involves informational time travel. The player character, Brian, is supporting Xenti's AI from the future, basically fighting himself.
- Tutorial Failure: The tutorial does a good job at explaining game mechanics, but has to be done more than once: it guides you towards a 50% trace penalty for being detected, which is a serious penalty that gets carried to non-tutorial levels. It can be corrected by spending $2500, but it's better to exploit prior knowledge to optimize the result.
- Unwinnable by Design: While there's more than enough money available, it's possible to enter a state where you don't have enough money to proceed with the next objective. The developers intended unsolvability to remain within just one mission, by requiring a trace level below a given threshold at certain chapters.