Moby ID: 820
DOS Specs

Description official description

NetHack is a roguelike role-playing game with both traditional ASCII graphics and a graphical tileset. The objective is to find the Amulet of Yendor and sacrifice it to your deity.

In the beginning, you choose one of the classes - there are some traditional ones, like Priest or Knight, but also unusual ones like Tourist or Caveman. Then, you find yourself on the 1st level of the dungeon, along with your pet that will accompany you and help you in combat. On each level, you have to find an exit to the lower level; on the way, you'll find countless monsters to fight, as well as items to collect. Sometimes, you come upon a shop, where you can buy or sell items.

Items you find can be blessed (more effective than normal), but sometimes are cursed (less effective, or outright harmful). Eating the corpses of fallen enemies is an important part of the game since many creatures give you special abilities or immunities when eaten.

While the above description might seem brief, NetHack is, in fact, a very complex and merciless game - there are lots of ways to die.

Since NetHack is a roguelike, everything is represented as a top-down view of the current dungeon level, where the walls, the floor, and all items, characters, and monsters are ASCII characters. More recent versions of the game also include an official set of graphical tiles which can be turned on at the player's option.

Groups +



Credits (DOS version)

128 People (126 developers, 2 thanks) · View all

A Guide to the Mazes of Menace (Guidebook for NetHack 3.3) by
Guide extensively edited and expanded for 3.0 by
Large portions of the Guide shamelessly cribbed from "A Guide to the Dungeons of Doom" by
Small portions of the Guide adapted from "Further Exploration of the Dungeons of Doom" by
Original Hack written by
Assistance on original Hack from
Hack re-write (v1.0.1 - 1.0.3) by
Early Hack port revisions merged in NetHack 1.4 by
NetHack 3.0c rewrite coordinated by
NetHack 3.0c rewrite team
NetHack 3.0c rewrite team joined by
NetHack 3.1 revision lead
[ full credits ]



Average score: 89% (based on 2 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 109 ratings with 9 reviews)

The Last Game You'll Ever Play

The Good
It is comprehensive: it has great scads of races, of items, of dungeons (quest levels, a Sokoban game, the Gnomish Mines &c.); even the kitchen sink. It never gets old: just when one thought one knew it all, some new thing leaps out. After NetHack, every other game pales and is boring.

The Bad
It is hard, probably the hardest game I've ever played. It'll keep drawing you in and killing you off. Just as NetHack has more items, monsters and types of levels than other games, so too it has more ways to die: being killed outright; starving; choking to death; eating too much food; poisoning; petrification; being crushed by boulders; falling down stairs; donning an amulet of strangulation; and so on and so forth. It is a tough game.

The Bottom Line
Well worth playing. It's available for nearly every platform, and there's even a GUI (Falcon's Eye, I believe) available. It requires thought and consideration--there's no such thing as an unfair death (or any other negative occurrence) in NetHack: it's always winnable, and always possible to think one's way out.

Linux · by Robert Uhl (2) · 2003

Incredible depth of gameplay, ASCII graphics. The perfect hack-and-slash game?

The Good
The gameplay. It all comes down to that in Nethack. A quick description of the idea of this type of game: you descend into a randomly-generated dungeon, with an ultimate quest in mind. There is no way to save your game - once you die, you have to start the game over with a new character.

Nethack is basically just a hack-and-slash game, but there is so much to it that it never ceases to amaze. There are literally thousands of items and creatures. The important part of this is that all the items and creatures interact in just about any way imaginable.

The standard example serves well to exemplify the spirit of the game: lets say you kill a cockatrice. They're not easy to kill, seeing as how they can turn you into stone with their touch. But you've killed it. Now what do you do with corpse? Well, if you have rubber gloves on (so you don't turn to stone), you could pick up the corpse and then wield it like a weapon, so that when you hit enemies with the corpse, they themselves turn into stone. But the best part is this: lets say you leave the cockatrice corpse. Monsters could then come and use the corpse themselves to try to turn you into stone!

This is not an isolated example. This is not "one small feature" that has been added to the game. The whole game is like this!

Perhaps another small example would help. There are quite a few shops in the dungeons of the game. You don't have much gold to buy items in the shops though. Can you find a way to steal stuff in the shop? But of course! You could send you pet in and hope it picks up something you want. Having trained it well enough (training your pet is a whole other story), you can then call it back to your side, where it returns an item pilfered from the store. But perhaps your pet is dead. So you find a pickaxe, hide it in a bag so the storekeeper can't see it as you come in (they check this kind of thing), pick up an item, make a hole in the floor with the pickaxe, and drop down to the next dungeon level, safe from the storekeepers vengeance. Just don't expect to go back to the store any time soon...

Did I mention this game is free? And open-source? And available for any platform? (DOS, Windows, Linux, Amiga, Macintosh....)

The Bad
As much fun as this game is, it isn't the best game ever. It is almost certainly the best hack-and-slash game ever, but hack-and-slash has its limitations. As much depth as the game has, you are still just going around a dungeon, killing things, and doing some quests.

So, after a while playing, it can become a bit monotonous. So you leave the game for a while, but soon you return, to discover something else fascinating about the game, and then you play for a while longer.

The Bottom Line
Just try it for yourself. The ASCII graphics and keyboard interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, but it really only takes half an hour to get used to the game.

Once there, this is the kind of game you will be playing, off and on, for decades. Literally. Most people haven't beaten the game until they've played it for years - I doubt anyone playing knows everything about the game. It is a unique experience, and a great addition to a gaming library.

Linux · by Geoff Cruttwell (7) · 2000

ultima enchanced, (besides the grapics)

The Good
this game has it all !!! from items, to npc's, monsters, mazes, and you even get to have you own pet !!!!

The Bad
1. It's hard as hell, i mean, almost everything and anything can and will kill you 2. gameplay isn't very good. most of the cool commands are hidden within the docs of the game 3. text graphics is so yesterday..... 4. the turn-based mechanism of the game allows the computer to "cheat" 5. it has too many options

The Bottom Line
it's an RPG, one of the best, and it's free !!!! something like ultima, but with more options, better gameplay, and less graphics!

Windows · by Henry Aloni (46) · 2003

[ View all 9 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Why does this exist? Tracy Poff (2094) Jun 21, 2014
NetHack or HackLite? Игги Друге (46653) Apr 30, 2014


1001 Video Games

NetHack appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


This project is also the descendant of an older game called Hack. Hack was one of the first "dungeon" type games to use a graphical display instead of text based room descriptions - though it still used ASCII characters to portray your environment.

Easter eggs

Some scroll names in NetHack mean something when read backwards (e.g. "ELBIB YLOH", "DUAM XNAHT"), but "KIRJE" just means "letter" in Finnish.

Gameplay features

  • Players are able to receive Email within the game.
  • NetHack is one of the few computer games where you can actually produce offspring. By polymorphing into a female snake, dragon, or other appropriate monster, you can lay eggs. Just be sure to have fire resistance once your baby dragon starts breathing fire.


The owner of the candle shop in the Gnomish Mines town, Izchak, is named after one of the former DevTeam members, Dr. Izchak Miller, who passed away before the release of Nethack 3.2. Information also contributed by Late


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  • MobyGames ID: 820
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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Droog.

Windows Mobile, OS/2 added by Trypticon. GP2X Wiz, GP2X added by 666gonzo666. PC-98 added by Infernos. Acorn 32-bit, GP32 added by Kabushi. Android, iPhone, Amiga, Browser, Macintosh added by Pseudo_Intellectual. Atari ST added by Игги Друге.

Additional contributors: Adam Baratz, Jeanne, Alaka, Pseudo_Intellectual, General Error, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added February 2, 2000. Last modified February 13, 2024.