Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What I'm Playing: Hexcells

This one is just a mellow little puzzler. Sorry, hardcore gamers, but I guess I'm a ~filthy casual~ at heart.

There are three editions of Hexcells: Hexcells, Hexcells Plus, and Hexcelles Infinite. They're all developed by Matthew Brown, who has a couple of other games out now that also look cool.

He describes Hexcells as an "ambient puzzle game" and I'd say that's a pretty apt descriptor.

Hexcells screenshot courtesy Matthew Brown
Everything about the game is clean, simple, and calming, and that is the game's strength. Games can do a lot and be a lot these days; to be simple (truly simple, not scaled-down-for-mobile-app) is a bold move.

The game play of Hexcells is, unsurprisingly, like Minesweeper with hexagonal cells. There are some twists and turns thrown in (as you can see above, sometimes you get hints about how many "mines" in a specific column rather than in the surrounding tiles), but it's still very straightforward.

For extra stress-relief, zone-out experience, there is the soundtrack. On its own it's great chill-out music, but the creative little touch is the inclusion of the game play in the music. Every time you either find a "bomb" or clear out a cell, a subtle audio cue plays—in perfect synchronization with the soundtrack. There's something about uncovering the blue cells or destroying the yellow ones to play with the soundtrack that makes things even more satisfying. Headphones are a must.

As for the puzzles themselves, they're well designed. They might err on the side of too easy, but not that often. (Of course, I say this without having even cleared Hexcells yet.) I've had a couple where I had to sit and think for a while, and a few where I had to ask JV to come over to see if I had missed anything. Funnily enough, sometimes the act of looking away from the screen to talk to him was enough to refresh my brain: I'd look back and see the critical bit I had missed.

You can get the whole set for around $10 US on Steam. If you're not sure it'll be your thing, you can just get the first for $3 US.


  1. !
    One of my favorite puzzle games ever. Like a mix of minesweeper and picross. Hope you enjoy. Make sure to check out Hexcells Plus, it ramps up the difficulty and mechanics another step, and then Hexcells Infinite; similar to Plus but with a random puzzle generator as well.

    1. Hey dude!

      I got the whole package deal, so I have Plus and Infinite waiting for me after I finish the first one (which is going to be soon, at this rate). I usually play Mah Jongg for my little "productivity breaks" while I work, but I think that might be supplanted by Hexcells.