Dark Signs [PC]
June 8, 2009
Black Hats, White Hats, Grey Hats, names like Kevin Poulsen, Adrian Lamo, and most reputably Kevin Mitnick. Hypothetically the origin of the fad of online handles, hacking and cracking provides an allure for both the right on wrong reasons. Being able to sit behind a computer and delve into what lies behind others supposedly secure systems sounds so enthralling.
Hence why I found myself illuminated in the blue aura of such a mysterious game in the early hours of the morning before sunrise. Dark Signs is a 2006 Command Line based game from Vectra Media, with hypnotic music and mystery to boot. A revolutionary game that’s pure existence is shrouded in supposed secrecy as it’s hardly documented anywhere throughout cyberspace. As far as the internet is concerned Vectra Media practically doesn’t exist; sites such as Wikipedia don’t even acknowledge that Dark Signs or Vectra Media exist; IGN claims Dark Signs wasn’t even released; and unless you know what the game is actually called nothing about it will come up in Google; and to top it off, if you do find the Dark Signs website you’ll find a shell of a site that you have to delve deep within in order to even find the Dark Signs download.
Certainly a game worth playing, if only for finding out why it’s so unheard of. And it all begins with…
A blinking CLI system is your portal to the Dark Signs universe, with secret underground organisations leaving missions in your inbox; websites, IP Addresses, secret ports, encrypted files, suddenly the world is your oyster. The game presents it’s only syntax; “DScript” and with it you trace, scan, ping, and connect your way through cyberspace in order to uncover whatever mission you’re presented with. The game helpfully provides a walkthrough for the first part of the mission, teaching you how to play it and what to look for. However what makes Dark Signs so unique is that you can write your own scripts, you have incredible freedom to customize any aspect of your gameplay. Literally in this game; hacks, cracks, macros, scripts, and other cheats, are all free to be used and the game encourages it. That being said the game is aware of this, and so each mission gets increasingly tougher, expecting for you to resource yourself by any means necessary.
Missions generally surround tracking down secret files of information, with each mission providing you key intel that is then used in your next mission. Scanning IP ranges, tracing where particular servers stem from, finding ports and loopholes, codes buried deep within encrypted data; Dark Signs makes use of a variety of functions that we imagine hackers utilizing to reach their goal.
You were also able to download user created content, however since the game is no longer being supported, finding third-party add-ons is difficult. However there is development on an Online version of the game, though evidence suggests that there hasn’t been much work on it in the past year or so. The Stand-alone version is still downloadable if you search hard enough, and it’s definitely worth a look as one of those games you can play while slightly awake after hours of gaming into the early hours of the morning, that is until reality hits that you’re watching the sun rise. Who knew that a Command Line based game could be so deep, though its evident rejection from existence suggests that most gamers would prefer having a gun than a prompt window.
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