Hexcells Infinite Review
A great idea for a puzzle game, and it is executed well
It’s fascinating to me that people still buy newspapers. I haven’t bought one in years. However the one thing I do miss is the puzzle section. Crosswords, Codewords, and good old Sudoku. It’s just not the same doing it online without a pen in your hand and the feeling of the paper beneath your fingers. Hexcells Infinite is the kind of puzzle game that would feel at place in the coffee break section of a newspaper, but has the benefit of not being able to work in the real world.
So to the computer we go for a quick blast of brain teasing. Hexcells looks simple but it’s more complicated than it seems. You’re given a shape of tessellating orange hexes. Underneath the orange it is either blue or black. You have to use logic to figure out which it will be. Left click if you think it’s blue, right click if you think it’s black. You are aided by numbers around the shape or on the black tiles.
A number outside the shape lets you know how many blue tiles are in that corresponding row. A number on one of the black hexes lets you know how many blue tiles are connected to it. A number on a blue hex tells you how many other blue cells are in a two hex radius. If the number is surrounded by curly brackets, then the blue hexes are conjoined. If the number is surrounded by hyphens, then the blue hexes cannot be next to each other. To complete the puzzle, you simply have to unearth all the hexes while making as few mistakes as possible. Got all that? It sounds confusing, and it kind of is unless you see it in action. Thankfully the game has good tutorials every time a new puzzle mechanic surfaces that teach you what’s going on very well.
There are six ‘worlds’ in total, each with six puzzles to uncover in each. “That’s only 36!” I hear you cry, “Why is it called ‘Infinite’?” The 36 puzzles are simply the main game mode, what Infinite has added over its predecessor is the ability to generate random puzzles. Technically the number isn’t infinite, but there are more than you’ll ever be able to complete in a lifetime. You can generate a random seed of eight numbers, choose the numbers yourself or even use today’s date, which is a novel idea. I’d advise only starting the Infinite mode if you’ve completed a good portion of the main mode however, as some of the random puzzles it can generate are fiendish to say the least.
Even about half way through the main mode, you’ll be left scratching your head over some of the levels. It’s not hard to complete levels by brute forcing your way through, because you know that if you left click a hex and it’s wrong, then right clicking will be the correct course of action. However the game is tallying up your mistakes as you go, and you get fewer points at the end of each level if you’ve made too many. These points are used to unlock the new worlds, so you’ll have to be good at the game to see later levels. And I mean really good, because the number of points you need to unlock world six seems unnecessarily high. You’ll spend a lot of time later on going back to old levels to get better scores. You’ll be well aware that you’ve played them before, but you won’t remember the solution, so it just becomes frustrating.
It is wonderfully relaxing though, once you get in the swing of things. You can spend ten minutes blocking everything else out and just using your brain to solve a challenging puzzle, and if you do it well you feel a great sense of satisfaction at the end. This is all aided by the smooth, pristine visuals and the calming drone sounds that play in the background.
There’s not much more to say on the matter. Is it value for money? Well, it’s very cheap and you could technically play it for the rest of your life if you really wanted to. The Infinite mode adds a lot of content, but no more depth than is already in there. Hexcells Infinite is a great idea for a puzzle game, and it is executed well for what it is. It’s not flashy or exciting, but it doesn’t need to be. If, like me, you miss the old days of doing a quick newspaper puzzle, you’ll enjoy this very much.