Super Hexagon: Indie-gamer’s review

super_hexagonThe creator of the retro indie platformer VVVVVV, Terry Cavanagh has concocted the most disorienting, hellishly addicting game I’ve seen yet.

As I played it on my laptop, I found myself pushed back from the screen as far as I could go while still having my hands on the keyboard. I believe that this was a subconscious attempt to keep myself from getting pulled into the whirling vortex of regular polygons that is Super Hexagon.

The game itself is very simple. You have only the left and right arrow keys that you press (or tap, if you’re playing on an iOS device) to move the little triangle that you control out of the way of the rapidly approaching lines. This is way more difficult than it sounds. Now that I think about it, it also reminds me of work: the deadlines are rapidly approaching and you can only go on for so long before they hit you.

Flashing colors and pulsing shapes are generally enough to send most people over the edge all by themselves. However, simple flashing colors and shapes are not enough for Terry Cavanagh. Oh no. He has to add infuriatingly difficult gameplay to the mix to create the monster of a game that is Super Hexagon. This game is not for the faint of heart, the impatient, or anyone having a bad day.

There are three different stages to play through in Super Hexagon, not including unlockable stages, called Hexagon, Hexagoner and Hexagonest. These stages go up in difficulty, and speed, from Hexagon to Hexagonest.

Since all three stages are immediately available, I found that a good strategy for success was to play the more difficult stages for a few minutes and then go back to Hexagon, which then seemed easy and extremely slow-paced by comparison. Going from the faster, more difficult stages to the first stage makes you feel like Neo dodging slow-motion bullets as you maneuver your triangle out of the way of the approaching lines.

The voice that tells you “begin” when you start each stage and says “game over” after you’ve failed sets the tone for the game. It tells you that there is only this to the game, and that you will begin each stage, get a game over and then begin again. The only way to avoid the cycle is to not play the game. It’s like reincarnation narrated by a robot.

The game also has an awesome soundtrack from chiptune artist Chipzel, which can be purchased separately from Super Hexagon on Chipzel’s bandcamp site. This is a great idea, because then not only do you have some great new music, but you can then put the soundtrack on your portable music player of choice and reminisce about breaking your computer over your knee as you ride the bus or walk down the street.

All complaining aside, this is actually a pretty entertaining game that’s worth checking out. It’s difficult, yes, but you learn pretty quickly the best ways to play.

You can find Super Hexagon on Steam or in the iTunes Store.