Terry Cavanagh is known for coming up with brilliantly designed (not to mention devilishly challenging) games. His latest one – Super Hexagon – is a masterpiece. The game redefines the definition of “tough as nails” for Android games – be warned that this is not meant for the faint-hearted. So just what exactly is so great about this game? Read on to find out.
The premise of Super Hexagon is simple. You play as a triangle with the goal of surviving mazes of lines and geometrical shapes that collapse towards the center. The controls are fairly straight-forward – touch anywhere on the left half of the screen to move in that direction, and anywhere on the right to move there. Hit the walls and you meet an instant death.
The sequence of obstacles are randomly and procedurally generated on the fly. However, as you play a level many times, you’ll be able to recognize certain patterns unique to that level. Despite knowing this though, getting past the sixty second mark (you’re considered to have won a level at this point) is no easy task as it requires two further things; flawless hand-eye co-ordination and precise timing as to how long you keep your thumbs pressed on the screen.
Personally, I feel that recognizing the patterns and having a good hand-eye co-ordination, while difficult, are achievable after some time. Where the game really is unforgiving is on the timing aspect – hold for just a tad too long or short and you’ll end up in the walls. You’ll need to be extremely focused and zoned in to pull through the levels as a result.
What adds to the uniqueness of Super Hexagon is its bizarre hypnotic graphics and the pumping retro-ish arcade soundtrack. At first, you’ll find the background which constantly flashes between colors in tandem with the beat of the music to hurt your eyes, but you’ll soon get used to it. Truth be told though, I am not entirely fond of the soundtrack. As a result I tend to dial the volume down but not turn it off entirely as it is vital in keeping you ‘in the zone’.
The first ten or twenty times you fire up the initial level, you’ll probably die inside the first five seconds. And this is on the first of six difficulty levels. If you’re going to doubt the “hardness” of the game, then maybe the fact that the first level is labeled as “hard” will change your mind. The sixth, logically (or not), is called “hardestestestest”. But don’t lose heart, as with determination and practice, you will eventually get through.
The first three levels are readily unlocked, and then winning each one will unlock a corresponding hyper mode. Moving up from one level to another naturally produces faster action and more complex patterns, with lesser room for error. I’ve actually not won the whole game (yet) – only the first, second and fifth levels – but definitely winning the whole thing is one of my major goals this year. Yeah, no kidding! If you’re the feisty and competitive type, you’ll be happy to know that there is an online leaderboard where you can compete for the top times on each level.
The great thing about Super Hexagon is that you can instantly restart a level after dying. The play time, which is usually measured in seconds, is a perfect fit for mobile games. The sense of accomplishment after managing to win a level or improving on your best times is immensely gratifying. You’ll actually find the action so intense that your heart will start beating faster too. It has got that dangerously addicting ‘one more time’ side-effect as well. Careful with that though – I have said ‘one more time’ on more than one occasion but end up playing much longer than I should.
Comparing the Android version the PC version that I have been playing for a while now, there is a subtle difference in how the controls feel. Here, the response to your input feels marginally quicker, but when you lift off your thumbs the triangle tends to overshoot your intended point. So if you have been playing on the PC, you will have to take some time to get used to this, especially on the faster levels. It is not necessarily a flaw of the game, just that now you use a different mode of input for the controls and as such it behaves differently in that respect.
The design and execution of the game is near-perfect in my opinion – insanely difficult but inviting enough for you to come back time and time again to improve on your best efforts. The only blemish to this Android version Super Hexagon is that for some reason or other it drops a few frames every now and again – nothing major but noticeable nonetheless.
If you’re in for a grueling experience that would make you curse and tempt you to throw your phone (or tablet) out of the window, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be getting this off Google Play right this instant. You can thank me later.