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.
- Fantasy Creatures: Dragons
- Fantasy Creatures: Dwarves
- Fantasy Creatures: Elves
- Fantasy Creatures: Goblins
- Fantasy Creatures: Orcs
- Fantasy Creatures: Trolls
- Fantasy Creatures: Unicorns
- Gameplay feature: Burden / Encumbrance
- Gameplay feature: Controllable pet companions
- Gameplay feature: Having children
- Gameplay feature: Hunger / Thirst
- Gameplay feature: Permadeath / permanent death
- Games with randomly generated environments
- Genre: Dungeon Crawler
- NetHack revisions
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)
What's likable about this game? Well, you have to go back waaaaay back in time to understand. Back in the time of green CRTs. That's right, the yellowish beige monitors connected by a serial cable to a Unix server in universities back in the early eighties. I'm no historian, but from what I can recollect is that back then, people relied on a few Unix games, notably one named "adventure", but these were text-based adventure games. Rogue came in with a more complete full-screen interface, then came hack, then came nethack.
What is likeable about nethack? Well it's an easy way to get back to that period, with a game that has been ported to many platforms and is still developed. The game is complex if you like high learning curves.
This is a handy game if you want to impress your friends by showing that an obscure operating system such as DG/UX or Tru64 can actually run a game instead of a business application, although Nethack is not what I could call a modern game.
I haven't played it enough to qualify it as a classic. I compiled it in my box and tried it out of curiosity. But it has a big following which makes me believe that there is more than meets the eye. Time will tell.
Absolutely horrible and hard to master interface, but having been introduced to Unix systems in the nineties under the X Window influence, it's probably just me.
The Bottom Line
Nethack (and its ancestor, Rogue) has been best described by a Unix admin friend of mine many years ago as "The game were you fight with a semi colon".
So if you enjoy fighting semi colons, this game is for you.
Linux · by Olivier Masse (443) · 2003
Everything. Control, Script (that is, if you call it a script) characters, random generation, all the monsters, all in all, it is a very well-done game. Some might argue "Oh, the graphics suck." So what? Who ever said Graphics were everything? At first, I thought it looked a bit strange, but the tiled (graphical) version attracted me towards it, and I was hooked. I even know of kids who like this game! There is so much depth to how it works, I mean, how many games are there where you can wield a cockatrice corpse and turn people to stone with it? Or, how many games are there where your pet will rob shops for you, and where you can pray? Also, how many games use 75% of the letters on the keyboard, with extended commands, in addition to the arsenal of functions already available? And how many games can send you your e-mail while you're playing?
The difficulty can always be a pain. Explore mode is alway available, though! And it's a great way to learn the game without dying at experience level 2. I still don't see how anyone could beat it without backing up save files, as Nethack deletes the save you were working off of (that is, if you saved at all) when you die, and dying can happen fairly often. Also, there is no in-depth story to it all, which would be nearly impossible, as content is randomly generated. And yes, the graphics are inferior, but hey, There's always Falcon's Eye. Also, there is hardly any sound, as music is only played while you use instruments, and even then, I couldn't get my soundcard to work...
The Bottom Line
My personal favorite computer game. A truly edifying gaming experience. Definitely not a game that you want to play because of its superior graphics. A very fun game. If you think it looks strange, and don't play it because of that, it's your loss, as you are really missing out.
DOS · by J. David Taylor (27) · 2003
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.
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
|Why does this exist?||Tracy Poff (2074)||Jun 21st, 2014|
|NetHack or HackLite?||Игги Друге (46154)||Apr 30th, 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.
Some scroll names in NetHack mean something when read backwards (e.g. "ELBIB YLOH", "DUAM XNAHT"), but "KIRJE" just means "letter" in Finnish.
- 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
Related Sites +
"Dudley's Dungeon" webcomic
Frequently-updated Nethack-themed webcomic in fixed-width textmode -- just like Nethack!
"Which NetHack monster are you?" quiz
Equates your psyche to personality traits of 15 common NH enemies.
Annotated NetHack File
History of the NetHack releases
Graphical Tilesets for NetHack
- MobyGames ID: 820
- Wikipedia (en)
Know about this game? Add your expertise to help preserve this entry in video game history!
Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Droog.
OS/2, Windows Mobile added by Trypticon. GP2X, GP2X Wiz added by 666gonzo666. PC-98 added by Infernos. GP32, Acorn 32-bit added by Kabushi. Browser, iPhone, Android, Macintosh, Amiga added by Pseudo_Intellectual. Atari ST added by Игги Друге.
Game added February 2nd, 2000. Last modified September 11th, 2023.