NetHack is a classic, Roguelike computer game infamous for its permanent death and complex gameplay. The free and open source game was released over 20 years ago in 1987 and the game is still in development. There's a huge community still playing NetHack, producing patches, and even forking the source to make new and wildly different games. The game has been ported to just about every platform known to man, and can be played online on any machine that has telnet. I could go on and on about the depth of its gameplay, challenging puzzles and enemies, or its ASCII graphics, but there are so many other resources which can do it better.
NetHack is not the first Roguelike I've played at the First Hour, that would be Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer. Mystery Dungeon is a popular series in Japan that finally made it stateside last year. While death is not quite permanent, it's still a much bigger setback than in most games. Speaking of Roguelikes, if you've ever played Pokemon Mystery Dungeon or even ToeJam & Earl for the Sega Genesis, you've played a game in the genre. Being Roguelike can mean a lot more than ASCII graphics with vi-like controls.
I started playing NetHack just a couple of days ago, much to the demands of a friend and an intense interest on my own part. The game is known to be notoriously difficult, being a Roguelike computer game, death is permanent. It's a long, arduous journey that requires tremendous item management, tough gameplay decisions, and a little luck (or to the naturally unlucky, a lot of luck). People die after minutes, hours, or days of playing the same character, and sometimes for very pathetic, foolish reasons. NetHack fans call these Yet Another Stupid Death (YASD).
For reasons of personal record keeping and a bit of public self-deprecation, I will be Twittering all my NetHack deaths. You can read them all at twitter.com/firsthour over the next coming weeks. I can't promise I'll ever ascend (beat the game), but I can promise that you'll probably have some laughs and remember fondly back to your own YASD's if you've played the game.
A first hour review of NetHack is also just around the corner, keep an eye out that.