Recently, I had the pleasure of playing and reviewing Pic-a-Pix Color on the PS4 and PS Vita, which was based on the popular Picross format which also happens to be one of my favourite types of puzzle. My other favourite type of logical puzzle is Sudoku, so when we were approached and asked to take a look at a new style of Sudoku, one which operates in hexagons instead of a grid, I couldn’t say no. Hexologic was released today on Steam and mobile devices for a reasonably low price, the question is, was it fun to play?
Everyone knows how to play Sudoku, or at least everyone reading a review about a Sudoku-style puzzle game most likely knows how to play Sudoku. So I won’t go into depths on the whole ins and outs. Basically, the aim of Sudoku is to have the numbers 1 through 9 placed upon a grid where the number only appears once per column, row, and segment. It’s a very good logical game which increases its difficulty by reducing the number of intially set numbers – which leads to you having to guess and think more logically about what could go where.
Hexologic is similar in some aspects, and more like a crossword in others. That’s right, everyone knows what a crossword is, right? If not, it’s a word-based puzzle where you need to solve clues to uncover words which are placed in a grid. Once in the grid, other words may overlap and share the same letters – so you have to ensure your answers are right. If not then it could lead to you not guessing the right answer due to the wrong letter being there, or the whole thing falling apart because you were building other answers on the wrong initial answer.
Okay, so we now know the inspirations and get the gist of what this game could be like. Let’s take a look at how the game actually works as it’s own thing. Please refer to my image above in regards to how I’m about to explain it – the game is much more relaxed with teaching you the rules, I just want to explain the thought process.
First things first, every single hexagon MUST have a number in it, well, a number of dots. You can only have 1, 2 or 3 dots in each cell. The numbers on the end of the shapes indicate what that particular line MUST add up to. Can you see the references to the influences yet? The numbers at the ends are like Sudoku and the fact that the lines overlap is like a crossword. You could say that part is also like a Sudoku, but you can have the same number of dots in multiple cells in a row, something you can’t do in Sudoku but you can in a crossword.
Okay, so looking at the above, where would you start? You begin by looking for the ‘easy’ answers. In this case, it’s the 2 where the purple hexagon is. This is the easy one as we know it has two cells and it must add up to two. So we put one dot in each of those. Based on that, we have the three next to the two and we now know the first cell is a one – so the one next to it is two, 1+2=3, etc… So it’s all about finding that one good starting point. For me, I look for things like a six with only two spaces (has to be a 3+3), the two like above, a three with three spaces (1+1+1) and a nine with three spaces (3+3+3).
Hopefully that makes sense, if not then check out the video below, I’ve recorded myself doing the above puzzle as I talk you through how I did it.
The game doesn’t stay this easy though. After a while, the game will introduce a few new mechanics. First of all, you have static dots. These are cells which have already had dots inserted into them, like the initial numbers you get on Sudoku puzzles, only these are all going to be numbered four to seven. These can’t be changed and must be used within your calculations to get the correct numbers.
The second spanner that’s thrown into the works is the introduction of linked cells. These are coloured cells which will automatically popular all the cells of the same colour with the same amount of dots you put in either one of them. These levels can get pretty tricky as you have to be constantly thinking about what will be affected when you change one of them.
Finally, you will get a batch of levels which utilise both of the above processes at the same time – these levels were the most fun as they offered the most challenge and really had me thinking about what to do and how to work out the correct answer.
The game itself isn’t very long, clocking in at around 70-minutes for me to complete it on PC. Well, I say complete but I only did the initial 60 levels, there are some bonus ones which were unlocked as I went along which I haven’t gone back to yet. As the game is also on mobile devices, I can see myself picking it up on there and just doing a few at a time when I have a few minutes to spare. Sure, you could blast through them all in one sitting, but why not take your time and enjoy it more.
The PC version also comes fully equipt with a custom level editor which I have just tried out. It doesn’t have any means to share or load other levels via the Steam Workshop, but you can save any of your own creations as a file and also load up other peoples creations within the game. I’ll be using this to make more puzzles for my parents to try out as they love games like this. The Level editor itself is very easy to use, you simply place the dotted hexagons on a graph and then click on the edges to add number hints. Once done, you can play it, save, or load. Nice and simple.
Graphically the game is very clean and clear with a simplistic art design that works really well on my PC monitor. You do have the option to use a controller if you wish but I found my DS4 to be a bit clunky (probably due to it using Steams emulation so it works), so I just stuck with using the mouse. The music is very relaxing and suits the game perfectly.
The developer also informed me that a Nintendo Switch version is currently in development for later on in the year as well, which is awesome. I can really see this working on any handheld device… Yes, I asked if the PS Vita was going to be a consideration as well, seeing as we had the quality Pic-a-Pix recently and I know of a lot of PS Vita fans who would love a game like this to play whilst a game is loading on their PS4, or they have a few minutes to spare (PS Vita over the mobile for the trophies of course!). However, I was advised that no other console is currently under consideration at this time.
One last thing, before you shrug the game off for only having around 1-3 hours worth of gameplay (it took me 70 mins but some other reviewers are saying three hours), the game is really cheap, like 99p on mobiles and £1.99 on PC (£1.39 until June 5th). For that price, I would say it’s definitely worth it. It’s a new type of puzzle that gets you thinking and it keeps your brain active and working on the solutions.
Hexologic is an original take on the Sudoku format, offering you a unique way to solve puzzles. The 72 puzzles won’t take you too long to work through if you are an avid puzzle fan, although if you pick it up on PC then you can create your own levels and load up ones which other people have created as well. Those on mobile can pick it up cheaper but without this feature. As a puzzle game, I really enjoyed it and I hope we get to see more puzzles added in the future with new hazards and obstacles to make it even more difficult to solve. The music is also very delightful and it’s calm enough to help you concentrate, which is always good in a logic puzzle game. Highly recommended to all puzzle fans out there who are craving for a new experience and would like to try something new.
- Interesting take on the puzzles which influence it
- Calm, soothing music
- Very clean and easy to use UI and overall graphics
- Adds in various hazards to overcome which keeps the gameplay fresh and challenging
- Contains a level/puzzle creator on PC to make and share your own stages
- Even though it has 72 levels, it didn't take me long to complete them
- The save and load feature of the editor works great, but no Steam Workshop support
- It's a little easy because the lines light up when correct. Maybe add a harder mode where you aren't informed whats right until the very end?