I have a penchant for the low budget minimalist puzzle games that lure you in with inviting and relaxing designs and then usually rinse my brain dry towards the end of their relaxing puzzle run. Hexillume is my latest pick up in this budget genre but the hard bit came much earlier than I’d anticipated!
Each level in Hexillume presents a collection of hex tiles on a larger hex grid. Inside the hex tiles are various triangles and the goal of each level is have the triangles all pointing to each other so that nothing is left all on its own. When all the triangles on a hex tile are lined up with other triangles, the hex tile lights up satisfyingly. It’s one of those games where the description makes it more complicated than just seeing a screenshot of the action and in traditional puzzle fashion, the early levels just introduce the main mechanic.
We can move some hex tiles to new locations on the grid. We can also drop one hex tile onto of another so that it merges the triangles from both into one tile. Handy for tight spaces. Then you’ll have hex tiles that you can rotate on the spot, moving triangles like hands on a clock. Then mirror flipping tiles come into play. I was going quite well until they arrived and that’s where I started to need the use of hints. Hexillume combines new mechanics alongside previous ones and that gives you options to make the wrong move. Often solutions are quite elegant yet I was diving down a totally different rabbit hole. Hints work by providing a highlighted layout of the hex grid so you know where the tiles should go but not how to combine, rotate or move them to get the solution. I really liked this idea because even when you used a hint, completing the level required some skill and gave you satisfaction.
Whilst the controls, graphics and audio all work a treat, my only mild niggle with Hexillume is that the hints are sparse unless you earn gold crowns. You get these by completing levels perfectly with the least amount of moves possible. I had to keep going back to earlier levels and redo them to earn enough crowns to get a hint later in the game so I could have a chance at clearing a level. I certainly got stuck at times and since its level after level unlocking rather than unlocking a couple at a time, there were times I wished I could skip a level and return to it. It is a tiny niggle on what is a well constructed game. I’d love an undo move button too, although restart is readily available.
Most importantly, Hexillume’s puzzles are well crafted, nifty and canny. They are satisfying to complete and as the developers first ever game, Level One shows a deft hand at creating puzzles that look very simple on the surface but has hidden layers of depth and order to them when you get stuck in. A great addition to the low budget minimalist puzzle genre.
Satisfying, engaging and trickier than it looks, Hexillume is a great addition to the low budget minimalist puzzle genre.
Simple game mechanics - some fiendish bite sized puzzles.
Great minimalist and relaxed vibe.
Hint system means you still get satisfaction when completing a level as it doesn't hand you the answer on a plate.
Linear level unlock progression means if you get stuck on one specific level, you'll be stuck completely.
No undo move.
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