Gregory Weir swerves from the psychology of being trapped in a room or the body of a tentacled monster to give us a casualized take on the hacking type of game we could probably use more of. In fact, now that it´s been thematized to a more blantant puzzle, I think we can go ahead and level these things up to "sub-genre" status, in the same way that a Squire in FF Tactics levels up to become a Thief. The game itself doesn´t have a whole lot to do with actual hacking; it´s an abstract logic tracing game with time sensitivity on a turn-based cycle. That´s my one sentence analysis. You just click on these little packet launchers and try to clear a packet to the pyramid (why is the cliched hacking goal always a pyramid? Is there some Amon Ra/Illuminati current to the cyberpunk genre?). In order to clear it you have to shoot switches and things, which means you have to figure out the right order of packets to fire with the right timing.
The puzzle game seems daunting in the more complex levels, but it´s always and everywhere an untie-the-knot kind of deal, you just have to find the loose thread and trace it back. This might actually be a good metaphor for hacking, my experience with programming is that problems seem really hard until you see the solution, and then it´s like following the yellow-brick road. Any system is finite and can be hacked provided the loose thread can be identified, and of course when you´re working against government contractors (whether third world or uh, about to be third world) then those loose threads are pretty easy. Did you hear the joke about the Feds throwing billions at a program to unify their databases?
The narrative part reminds me of Little Brother with the IRC-esque banter from your friend, the good natured geekery of it, the honest and perhaps naive (barring mad skillz) desire to fight injustice and make a better world through intelligence, through intelligence. The political commentary amounts to the US not being much better than the third world dictatorships it often funds and occasionally topples, and it does get a bit heavy-handed, but the structure of the plot is pretty well done and keeps you interested. The choice of setting it in the very near future, one calender year ahead, and featuring a Caribbean detention camp "opened after Guantanamo was shut down" strikes me as a nice dose of anti-hopenosis. However, like Doctorow´s book, this game might give people the wrong idea about the efficacy of TOR and SSL etc., which can be easily traced or torn to shreds by NSA supercomputers. "Don´t worry, we´re talking 256-bit elliptic encryption" - dude please, if the DHS were looking for you those packets would be flagged and stripped naked before your burrito finishes microwaving. Still, a nice jaunt into a 21st century brand of cyberpunk that borders on contemporary fiction and can only be experienced in a browser-based game.