Genre(s): Adventure/Text-Based,
RPG/Single Player RPG,

3rd Party Rating: None found.

Price: Free


NetHack is a FREE single player dungeon exploration game and possibly the granddaddy of all freeware games. Though NetHack was first launched in 1987, the roguelike dungeon-crawling game has been updated so many times by its huge community of players that it’s available with updated graphics on every platform imaginable. It is still one of the best free games available.

NetHack runs on a wide variety of computer systems, with a variety of graphical and text interfaces all using the same game engine. Unlike many other Dungeons & Dragons-inspired games, the emphasis in NetHack is on discovering the detail of the dungeon and not simply killing everything in sight – in fact, killing everything in sight is a good way to die quickly. Each game presents a different landscape – the random number generator provides an essentially unlimited number of variations of the dungeon and its denizens to be discovered by the player in one of a number of characters: you can pick your race, your role, and your gender.

Before playing a game, the player is asked to name his or her character and then select a race, role, gender, and alignment, or allow the game to assign them randomly. There are traditional fantasy roles such as knight, barbarian, wizard, rogue, valkyrie, priest, monk, and samurai, but there are also unusual ones, including archaeologist, tourist, and caveman. The player character’s role and alignment dictate which deity the character serves in the game and “how other monsters react toward you”.

After the player character is created, the main objective is introduced. To win the game, the player must retrieve the Amulet of Yendor, found at the lowest level of the dungeon, and sacrifice it to his or her deity. Successful completion of this task rewards the player with the gift of immortality, and the player is said to “ascend”, attaining the status of demigod. In addition, a number of sub-quests must be completed, including one class-specific quest.

The player’s character is, unless manually specified otherwise, accompanied by a pet animal, typically a kitten or little dog, although knights begin with a saddled pony. Pets grow from fighting, and they can be changed by various means. Most of the other monsters may also be tamed using magic or tempting food.

NetHack’s dungeon spans about 50 primary levels, of which most are randomly generated when the player character first encounters them. A typical level contains a way “up” and a way “down” (these may be stairways, ladders, trapdoors etc.), along with several “rooms” joined by corridors. The “rooms” are randomly generated rectangles (as opposed to the linear corridors) and may contain features such as altars, shops, fountains, traps, thrones, pools of water, and sinks based upon the randomly generated features of the room . Some “special” levels are of fixed design in every game session. There are several dungeon branches, including a Sokoban puzzle and Vlad’s Tower; these branches add 20-24 additional levels.

Publisher: The NetHack DevTeam

Developer: The NetHack DevTeam

Release Date: July 1987

Players: Single Player


Sample Gameplay Video(s):

About Wade Palmer