I’ve said it a hundred times already, I’ll say it again, puzzle games are ten a penny as of late. We’ve seen them arriving thick, fast, and in many different forms; be it adventure games, horror games, or anything between. Though, sometimes, it’s nice have a puzzle game that wants to be just that, a puzzle game. Hexologic knows this, and doesn’t at all try buck the trend. Granted, it’s not without fault, but, the game certainly manages to get more right then it gets wrong by a fair margin. So, that aside, what’s the game all about and how does it play?
There’s no story present here. Instead, you’re thrown straight into the thick of it. The game welcomes you to its vibrant world hub; a collection of puzzles that rest in slightly varying themes. You’ve the option to favorite puzzles, the ability to alter the game’s difficulty, and (during play) the option to toggle on/off the audio. It’s as simple as that. There’s just over one hundred levels in total, all of which will take little more than a couple of hours to run through. That, is precisely where the game’s few drawbacks sit at, but more on that later.
The game’s puzzles function in a way that’s not too unlike Sudoku, and to Hexologic’s credit, it does a good job at feeding you into the fields of play. You’ll have a firm understanding as to how the game is to be played by the first few levels, and whilst new mechanics are introduced on a semi-frequent basis, the crux of play remains the same. Each level is compiled of various hexagonal grids, with numbered values that are placed on the perimeter of whatever shape these interconnected hexagons make up. Your goal? Match the values.
The kicker, however, is that you can only place numbers one, two, and three, within any hexagon. You’ll need to ensure that you match the value of the number that sits on the perimeter by applying the aforementioned numbers to the trail of hexagons that feed into it. For instance, if you’ve a row of five hexagons, and the perimeter value of that row is nine, you’ll key in numbers to each of those five hexagons until you’ve reached the desired amount. However, much like Sudoku, you’ll need to be mindful of each perimeter throughout.
Reaching the value of nine in the above example is one thing, but, you’ll need to make sure that you’re not interfering with another perimeter’s value elsewhere. Once you’ve met the value on all edges, you’ll complete the level and will be sent back to the hub to move to the next. The game gets gradually more complex as you journey through the game’s varying themes. This complexity typically consists of a mixture of larger grids, and some interesting new mechanics – each new mechanic is relayed to you through a range of simple, short levels.
In regards to the game’s handling, there really isn’t that much to keep on track of. Hexologic is a very accessible, and surprisingly enjoyable puzzler that just about anyone can pick up and play. Using the thumbsticks, you’ll control a cursor on-screen to highlight the grid’s hexagons. Once you’ve highlighted a hexagon, you’ll use the controller’s face buttons to fill said hexagon with up to three dots; each dot representing a single value. Outside of that, you can pull up a short menu to tweak the audio, refresh the level, or, return to the game’s hub.
The new functionalities that are gradually introduced force more forward thinking than the earlier levels do. These mechanics include the likes of hexagons that come with pre-set numbers that you’re unable to change, right through to pairs of bordered hexagons that share the same values, depending on what you enter. There’s more besides, including some math-based mechanics later on in the game. Collectively, this adds a nice layer of depth to the mix, though, once the game starts throwing all of these together, things get interesting.
It’s a shame then, that the game isn’t really all that difficult, which doesn’t fare too well for a game that’s puzzle-only. I managed to run through the entire offering in little under two hours, and to point out, I’m hardly the brightest bulb in the packet. Whilst there’s a number of special levels that you can unlock, the game’s short length, together with its lack of a steady difficulty, which is mostly due to the fact that you cant really lose here, can be pretty tough to overlook. Not to mention that outside of an endless mode, there’s not much replay value.
Still, it’s hard to grumble at what the game’s clearly missing, in the face of the content that it packs. Hexologic, if anything, provides a neat twist to a much loved concept, and although most will sail through this, there’s much to enjoy within. It helps, of course, the game’s presentation is top notch for what it is. Hexologic is vibrant, well detailed, and fun to observe. Sure, the score runs dry pretty damn quickly and soon becomes repetitive and annoying, but as alluded to above, the game’s charming, colorful aesthetic is welcoming enough in itself.
For a puzzle-specific game, Hexologic isn’t half bad. The game’s short length and its lack of any real challenge will no doubt deter player favor, though, in the face of its decent pace, its accessibility, and its constant introduction of new mechanics, these flaws are somewhat bearable. It’s a game that’s easy to recommend for what it gets right, but I would caution against picking this up if you’re simply looking to be tested.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.