1 person found this review helpful
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 2.5 hrs on record
Posted: Jan 15, 2016 @ 7:01pm
Updated: Jan 15, 2016 @ 8:16pm

A Paladin’s Steam Review: Hexcells, Plus and Infinite. Cheesing in the Cells.
  • Genre: Minimalist Casual Atmospheric Number Puzzlers
  • Developed & Published by: Matthew Brown
  • Platform: Windows, Mac and Linux
  • Business Model: Base Game
  • Copy Purchased by Myself
Read the full & unabridged review about the entire Hexcells Series on A Paladin Without A Crusade[wp.me]

Overall Gameplay Thoughts
Hexcells is a minimalist puzzle game that I like to think of as a combination of Minesweeper and Sudoku. A comparison that has probably been made elsewhere. Every level is basically the same. You’re presented with a variable number of cells with a number in the top right corner telling you how many blue cells there are in the puzzle. The challenge is figuring out which cells are blue and which are numbers. If you guess incorrectly, it’s counted as a mistake that will affect how many points you get at the end of a level. The numbers on or adjacent to cells are telling you how many blue cells are connected to them. It’s up to the player to figure out the pattern by examining the numbers. In general terms, if there are two unknown cells connected to a cell that has the number “2” on it, they’re both blue cells. There are several different mechanics used to confuse the player and make them logic out the solution. Upon completing a level, you’ll be rewarded with points that are used to unlock additional groups of levels. As such, this does requires you to complete most of the puzzles with a minimal amount of mistakes in order to progress forward.

Hexcells: Infinite Features
Hexcells Infinite is the fully fleshed out title. It has Steam cloud, the most challenging puzzles (36 new ones) and a random puzzle generator. It also has the ability to change the mouse buttons. The random number generator has the same pluses and minuses as most randomly generated systems do. It’s a lot of content but the quality of those puzzles will be all over the place compared the developer’s handcrafted ones. Still, there’s a neat level here and there. Additionally, the player is able to save their place in the puzzle and quit the game if they need to. The other two games do not.

My Main Issue With Hexcells
Here’s the problem I have with the entire Hexcells series. It’s a pretty good puzzle experience, if you play it how it’s intended to be played. However, I feel that they have a problematic design flaw: all of the puzzles can be cheesily completed. If you’re stuck at a certain sequence, you can just click through the rest of the puzzle making as many mistakes as you like. (I had some puzzles at 50-60 mistakes). What about the points you would get from a near perfect completion? Well, once you nearly finish the puzzle, take a screenshot and then instantly replay the level with your own personal guide. It’s possible to win all three games this way without much effort on your part.

PC Settings & Audio/Video
It’s a minimalist game so there really aren’t many settings to change. Since its running on the Unity engine, the Unity launcher menu pops up when you start the game every time. It allows you to change resolutions and turn fullscreen on/off. The graphics quality is set to beautiful and can’t be changed. However, I was able to play this on a basic, five year old laptop running Linux Mint and there was absolutely no trouble running it. Alternative keys can be changed here as well. Hexcells Infinite was the only game of the three that allows you to swap the left and right mouse button functions.

Final Thoughts
Overall, I think the Hexcells series is a decently executed puzzle idea with plenty of content. I take issue with the lack of anti-cheat but it's not enough to make it an anti-recommendation. (Thanks to a friend for making a case to change my mind on this). It’s a fun logic number puzzle series. And I did play the three games how it was intended too, with a few exceptions. I had quite a bit of fun deducing the my way through the levels and had several “aha!” moments despite it’s more casual nature. Additionally, it maintains a mellow and atmospheric experience that I can appreciate. While there is the less honorable part of myself thinking “you can just easily ‘cheat’ this game and not spend hours on it”, that doesn't disqualify it from being a decent puzzle game. So, if you can avoid cheating yourself, get the Hexcells series. But if you can’t restrain yourself from looking up help on even the slightest bit of challenge, I probably wouldn't get it. Otherwise, that's my thoughts on this series.

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