Welcome to MI7: the UK’s cyber security and censorship agency. With the latest string of laws restricting personal rights, criminals have been sprouting in your jurisdiction like weeds, so it’s up to you and your crack team of IT agents to protect the city. Who needs James Bond when you’ve got a desk job?
Rebelephant’s first title Mainlining brings a strangely thrilling puzzle game to Steam, currently under development. The player is thrown into the desktop of a cyber security agent, in a deceptively bureaucratic format like Lucas Pope’s Papers, Please. With the Mainline program at your disposal, you can identify and hack IPs to uncover all sorts of secrets, from a Brony’s fanfic to a plot to destroy MI7.
The game starts with a blue screen as the title page loads. Just go with it: somebody’s hacked into MI7 and crashed the server, so it’s your job to arrest the hacker. The first case is straightforward enough, but as the last confession sparks the next lead, suspects grow more and more adept at throwing you off their scent: planting evidence, framing locals, even changing their names and moving to another district. All the while, the mysterious Thorn looms in the background””a group of untouchable hackers vowing to eliminate your agency once and for all.
Given the setting’s nature, it’s easy to get distracted by every email, snapshot, and webpage you’ll encounter. As the game progresses, you’re bound to get suspicious about every little scrap of evidence, but you’ll need to prioritize what to use: only one document can lead to an arrest. Sometimes it helps to restart the case altogether, since it clears your evidence folder and you can avoid the obvious dead ends you followed earlier.
Lead Designer Sam Read has recruited some big names for this project. TellTale’s Jared Emerson-Johnson provides a simple yet engaging soundtrack to accompany the game; a tracking job through Google Maps suddenly has the excitement of an action movie car chase. Dave Grey’s pixelated art style makes the game both hilarious and familiar at the same time, like one of the obsolete Windows programs it’s based on. Assassin Creed’s Jill Murray rounds off this amazing team with a narrative that’s as in-depth as it is distracting (in the best of ways). Along with the funny blog posts and embarrassing email confessions, you’ll learn about how the new Blue Pill Laws have crushed people’s trust in the government. It doesn’t take long to learn MI7 is closer to its namesake (and Big Brother) than any player would be comfortable with. Whatever role you play, you’re definitely not the Good Guy.
Mainlining is currently scheduled for release this October. The finished product is expected to feature six different operating systems at the player’s disposal, so don’t worry about getting bored with the same Windows desktop case after case; before long, you’ll be hacking into texts, videos, and every speck of personal info left of the web. All in the name of cyber security.