Top Critic Average
Mainlining could have been a good, comedic antidote to Orwell’s overt political warnings. As it turns out, it’s got as many flaws as an outdated Windows operating system.
Mainlining kills two birds with one stone, fulfilling a childhood fantasy and just plain being a great game at the same time. If you're looking for a unique sort of puzzle/mystery game, definitely give this a try; it's obvious that Sam Read and Rebelephant have worked hard on this, and the result is a truly enjoyable game that's fun for fans of many game genres. Well worth the money.
It’s hard to say much else about the game without giving away some fun story beats, but overall Mainlining is a fun game with great, consistent art direction and some very clever (and mostly faithful) old style hacking mechanics. While it almost certainly plays best elsewhere, the Switch version is impressively competent and it’s a great themed adventure that is both challenging and satisfying.
For all its linearity, Mainlining does a fantastic job of making you feel like a detective. It’s as much a puzzle game as it is a point-and-click, and the continous light-hearted humour keeps the experience from feeling too drab.
Though not the first of its kind and by no means the most original tale spun from out this current trend of liberty-vouching discussion, Mainlining is a smart and cleverly put-together point-and-click piece that is layered enough with its puzzles but prominently more effective in its use of real World culture in providing that added sense of personally historic immersion.
I think these questions are invaluable to ask yourself after you finish the game because there isn’t a correct answer. These are the same questions hackers in the real world deal with daily, how far is too far to do something for the greater good? Mainlining may not be the most unique game play experience you will play all year but it certainly brings up questions and ideas that you will be playing out in your head long after the last suspect is caught.
Mainlining fails to really provide any interesting commentary on its chosen subject matter, revelling instead in caricatures we’ve all experienced a hundred times before; stuff you’ll have seen done better in any Grand Theft Auto game that has parody websites involved. Its gameplay too often degenerates into trial-and-error and lacks any sort of consequences for the player getting things wrong, which renders the whole investigative process pretty much pointless.
Mainlining offers little but a frustrating experience on the Nintendo Switch. It’s all too clear how the PC version would be superior in every single regard, while also costing five dollars less there. From broken mechanics, poor keyboard functionality, and no indication of what you’re supposed to be doing, Mainlining is a game that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. If the idea does at all intrigue you, look into the original PC version. It’s likely that even a basic laptop could run the game, and with the amount of typing needed and window jumping required, a keyboard and mouse are practically a must for a decent experience.