Simultaneously infuriating and rewarding, Super Hexagon is a force to be reckoned with.
Reviewed on the Android by Alex Trotter-Fernandez
This is the second time that I’ve bought and played Super Hexagon. If that isn’t a testament to how awesome this game is, I don’t know what is. I held off reviewing Super Hexagon for the PC, because as good as it was, it just felt like playing on a portable device was how this game was supposed to be enjoyed. That assumption wasn’t wrong, Super Hexagon is the perfect pick up and play game, and then some. Whatever platform Super Hexagon is played on, it still remains one of the most addictive and challenging high score chasers on the market, hearkening back to the days when video games were just video games, and depth meant something much more than a deep story, well rounded characters and a gazillion game mechanics. Super Hexagon is pretty much a testament to near perfect, focused game design.
The premise is simple. You must guide a small innocent triangle through a never ending spiraling maze of death – and shapes. It’s a deceptively simple concept made all the more challenging through devilish level design and horrendous speeds. The term “Jedi reflexes” may be apt when describing the kind of skills needed to progress through Super Hexagon’s 60 second nightmares. If you’re lucky enough to endure the challenge, hyper mode is activated and the chance to attempt to keep playing to crack the leaderboards opens up. And you will keep playing, Super Hexagon provokes that hidden compulsion in all of us to exceed and to do better. As complex as the patterns get, they are beatable. Losing is almost always your fault for not being quick enough, or not knowing the pattern well enough.
This is a game that requires some excellent muscle memory. There are only two controls in Super Hexagon; left and right. Holding down allows you to swing your triangle through spiraling hexagons while simply tapping at lightning speeds will help you progress through the trickier patterns. What bodes well for re-playability is that patterns are random. Although a key part of actually getting better at Super Hexagon is pattern recognition, they never ever appear in the same order, which means a section can always catch you off guard and lead to instant triangle smooshing death. Death is a reward though, learning how to beat each pattern is a joy, and you can watch your skills increase as you progress through the six increasingly impossible difficulty modes.
Visually it looks and it feels like an old Atari game from the 70′s, with the added bonus of lots of lavish pulsating colors. It’s geometric style is as simple as the games core concepts but it’s visually appealing to the eye. If ever there was a game that should have an epilepsy warning, Super Hexagon is that game. As the difficulty increases, so does the games efforts to completely disorientate you – just to make things that little bit harder. It’s great that the look and feel of Super Hexagon is a huge part of the ever increasing difficulty. Out of context, “intelligent design” would be a good phrase to use to describe it. The insanely good chiptune tracks that pulsate with the images are so catchy you’ll find the music invading your brain long after you’ve finished playing. The solemn voice over work is great at provoking rage with a depressed “Game Over” calling out every few seconds. After you die, jumping into a game the disembodies voice wryly says “again”. Every so often you may even get an “excellent”, although she never sounds that enthused, as if mocking you for your efforts.
Super Hexagon was near flawless on PC in terms of framerate and the overall smoothness of the game. I can’t compare with iOS, but I did find on my HTC One X, the Tegra quad core processor couldn’t quite keep up with the speed of events on the screen. While infuriating, I can’t say whether or not this was just a problem with my handset, or if I was using far too much ram with other applications open. Android development can be exceedingly difficult due to the different specifications of smart phones. For the most part it runs smooth enough to play the game without a fault, other than the occasional blip. It’s just unfortunate if said blip occurs when you’re having the run of your life and you can’t compensate for the skip. That being said it’s an easier to play game on smart phones and tablets. The touch screen controls are intuitive and are more immediate then using a keyboard or an Xbox Controller on the PC. It’s faster to react when you have your fingers primed against the screen. Skills are transferable from format to format though, it’s a lot like riding a bike, and the solution to each pattern will remain in your brain.
Super Hexagon is simultaneously an infuriating and rewarding experience. For all it’s simplicity, it’s also one of the most challenging games I’ve ever laid my thumbs on. Costing under £1 it’s also one of the better value title available for mobile gaming, offering hours upon hours of addictive game for a ridiculously small price. For those looking for something simple, addictive, fun and challenging, Super Hexagon is a must buy for any android device. You wont regret it.