Hexologic (Xbox One) Review
Sudoku-inspired puzzles are consistently engaging, especially at higher difficulty
Cute and charming aesthetic
New music tracks add variety
More levels and two new worlds
Still no menu to speak of
Obtuse controls, especially when compared to other platforms
New Platform, Same Puzzles
Hats off to Hexologic developer MythicOwl. They’ve taken they’re cute Sudoku-inspired puzzler from a mobile game, to Nintendo Switch and PC last year, and finally to XBOX One. It’s no mean feat to make the jump from a mobile app store to a bona fide console marketplace (with a price increase, might I add) and have enough people buy in to continue churning out the ports. I had the pleasure of reviewing the Switch port last year, and you can hear what I had to say about it here. For the purposes of this review, I will focus on what this XBOX One port brings to the table.
For starters, let me say that Hexologic’s unique take on Sudoku-style puzzles are still pretty fun. The majority of the levels won’t stump you for too long once you know what you’re looking for, and overall, the gameplay is solid. The saving grace of the Switch and PC versions, however, were the easy controls. The Switch version had the original mobile version’s touch screen sensibilities, and the ease of clicking the mouse on the PC version is sublime. The XBOX One version, of course, has no such capabilities, and the standard controller is quite obtuse to use. It’s a complaint I had in my original review and I have to stand by it and say that it is the least intuitive way to play. A shame overall, as at least with the Switch version, you have an option to play how you like.
There is a silver lining for XBOX One players, though. This port comes included with the content update that launched for the Switch and PC later last year, a few months after the game came out on those platforms. Imagine my delight when that update arrived and addressed at least a few of the concerns that I had on launch day. I was truly delighted.
A consistent issue I had was with the original difficulty, which never strayed far from “breezy”. But, alas, a new difficulty mode has arrived, one that removes some helpful visual cues and rearranges the puzzles a bit from their easier counterparts. “Breezy” has now drifted into “fiendish” territory, having me constantly second guess whether or not I had lined up my dots in the correct place. While stressful at times, I appreciate that the developer seemed to listen to and address the difficulty concern. More than just that, they’ve also added two new worlds and a ton of new levels, putting the level count over a hundred. With the new difficulty mode, I call that a win.
As far as presentation is concerned, the updated content included with this port was a mixed bag, unfortunately. I was thrilled that they included more music tracks in the game, as I initially found myself unimpressed with the music at launch on the other platforms. The lack of a menu, or even an explanation of pause screen options, is still an issue. Thank goodness the charming aesthetic is still intact.
I must say that I quite enjoy Hexologic. It was a fun little puzzler when it first launched on the Switch and PC last year, but with this new port, which includes the content-rich update that came late last year, the game is now a worthy addition to any puzzle fan’s collection. Just be warned, XBOX One players, you’re missing out on some slick control schemes that the other platforms have. If you can look past that, you’ll find a game that’s full of charm and some really solid puzzles. There is another silver lining, however, in that this title is part of Xbox’s Play Anywhere initiative. What this means is that purchasing an XBOX One version also allows you to download the game to your Windows PC as well. It may not make sense for everyone to do so, or some of you may not even have a Windows PC, but it’s a nice little bone that MythicOwl has thrown to those who want to be able to play this game… well, anywhere, and it includes those sweet, sweet mouse controls as well. Hexologic is available now on XBOX One, for $4.99 (to account for the Play Anywhere feature) and on Nintendo Switch and Steam for $2.99 each.