MAINLINING / DEVELOPER: REBELELEPHANT / PUBLISHER: MERGE GAMES / PLATFORM: PC, SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: 20TH JUNE
Techno-thriller Mainlining puts you in the shoes of an MI7 agent responsible for apprehending criminals based on evidence gathered through online investigations. Sift through files and photos, hack websites and messaging programs, narrow down the list of suspects and ultimately issue an arrest warrant - although if you move in too fast, there's a chance you might miss out on a lead that could link you to a much higher-profile criminal...
Mainlining sits you down in front of a computer screen and gives you all the tools you need to crack the case - everything apart from a sharp eye and a keen mind, that is. Those are up to you. Messages from your colleagues come through on the left hand side of the screen, and your programs and apps - downloaded files, internet browser, emails, maps and more - are accessed through a toolbar. There's also the all-important Mainline application, which allows you to hack into any of the game's websites. Evidence is often hidden somewhere in these files, but finding the right bit of info is trickier than it seems. You'll be expecting to get one person's details, but reading their blog gives you another lead, opening up a whole other line of inquiry that could lead to almost anywhere.
It's a super simple game to control if you've ever used a computer in your life, although typing might take a bit of getting used to, with the keyboard being split in two and each half controlled by the thumbsticks. It makes sense, because it allows you to slide each part around the screen to keep an eye on programs running underneath, but it can be a bit tricky to get to grips with. Touchscreen support is included on the Switch edition, which is much quicker and easier to use than a regular controller. It also helps you to really feel like a genuine secret agent with a fancy bit of tech in your hands.
With a gripping story and some dryly amusing dialogue, this is certainly the best way to poke around in some random person's backend without getting into trouble. Anyone with an inquisitive mind looking for something to sink their brains into are certainly well advised to check this one out.