I love number-based puzzlers for the most part; however, it's rare to come across one that's actually clever. So, does Hexologic offer innovative and addictive numeric puzzle gameplay?
Hexologic is played by navigating a cursor across a hexagon-based puzzle grid. Your goal is to fill it in with numbers that meet the conditions which are outlined along the outer perimeter of the playfield. These conditions specify the total number that all the numbers in that row need to add up to. You only use three buttons to play that correspond to the numbers 1, 2, and 3. Although this sounds simple, trying to figure out just where to place each digit can be super-tricky, especially in the later stages. I must say, the gameplay definitely got me hooked right away and I absolutely loved solving each of the puzzles throughout the stage-based campaign. There's a steady difficulty curve, too, so you won't be left in the dust even if you're a puzzle game amateur. It's satisfying stuff.
One area that Hexologic excels in is its slick presentation. The main menu is basically a ladder of puzzle nodes that you slowly climb with weird background art that gradually changes and it looks fantastic. The in-game visuals are smooth, too, with unambiguous layouts and minimal UI. Meanwhile, the ambient soundtrack is a welcome addition that manages to make the overall experience quite relaxing and reflective. I wasn't expecting a simple puzzle game to look and sound this great but I'm glad that it does.
As you progress through the stage-based campaign, you'll get introduced to additional gameplay mechanics that help provide a welcome amount of variety. For starters, you'll eventually come across grey tiles that have numbers painted on them which cannot be changed. The other mechanic is similarly coloured outlines that must have the same number within them. For example, when you put a 2 in a blue outlined node, it will show up in the other tiles with blue outlines. When you start encountering puzzles with both of these mechanics, things can get very tricky to figure out. Luckily, you can take your time and mess up all you want.
Update: Version 1.1.0
Recently, Hexologic received a major free update on Switch. Now, there are 36 extra levels which makes a grand total of 111. There are new puzzle mechanics, too. The most notable addition is puzzles that use greater than, less than, and equal signs. Later stages will also have you combining numbers on certain panels to generate the sum of those numbers on their corresponding coloured special tile. These mechanics add a layer of strategy that can make the puzzles quite tricky to beat. Speaking of tricky, there's a new hard difficulty setting that can be used for every level to make them more difficult to solve. Cool stuff, right?
That actually brings me to my first negative point about Hexologic. You really can't fail no matter how hard you try. There is no time limit and whenever you place an incorrect number, there are absolutely no repercussions. As a result, the challenge is almost nonexistent. When you combine this with the fact that the campaign only contains 60 stages, it's pretty disappointing. I completed the entire campaign in one sitting and it took me less than one hour to do so. However, I would definitely buy DLC for more stages.
Unfortunately, Hexologic lacks any substantial replay value. As you progress through the campaign, you can unlock bonus stages that are presented in five groups of three but they're not much harder than the main stages and once you beat those, there's nothing really left to do. I would have loved to see timed challenges and such but no such content is available.
When it comes to number-based puzzlers, Hexologic is a must-have game for any fan of the genre. It may be short on content but the clever gameplay and polished presentation make it an enjoyable albeit brief experience.
- + Very clever puzzle gameplay that'll keep you hooked until you beat it
- + Slick visuals and ambient music
- + Nifty mechanics add variety
- - Only contains 60 main puzzles that take less than an hour to beat
- - No repercussions for incorrect moves
- - Very little replay value