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- Developer - Terry Cavanagh
- Format - iOS
- Device tested - iPhone 4
- Release date - iOS (out now), Android (TBA)
- Price - 69p
The finalists of the Independent Game Festival Main Competition have been announced, with Terry Cavanagh's brilliant Super Hexagon up for Excellence in Design and an honourable mention for the Seamus McNally Grand Prize. With superlative reviews from Eurogamer, Edge and Destructoid already under its belt, and entire blogs dedicated to dissecting its visual design, Super Hexagon has become the benchmark for independent game developers. With the game out now on iOS, and an Android version imminent, this week seems like a golden opportunity to talk Super Hexagon up.
Not that it needs it. Playing Super Hexagon for anything more than five seconds is enough to spark your interest, its spiralling colours, pulsing music and simplistic premise drawing you in unlike any other game on iPhone.
A small triangle attached to the outside of a 2D hexagon, you have to rotate either left or right to avoid incoming waves of shapes. As the screen revolves, the patterns change and become more regular, demanding quick reflexes, and, where possible, forward planning.
Guiding your triangle through whatever gaps in the incoming shapes exist is made harder by the quickening pace of music (stressful electronic noise by Chipzel) and the flickering neon colours, which throw you off balance and make you lose, a lot: Like another of Cavanagh's games, Don't Look Back, Super Hexagon is incredibly difficult requiring a trial and error approach to gameplay. But unlike DLB, Hexagon never feels unfair and if you're routinely screwing up it's probably because you're not paying attention.
Play it long enough and you begin to sense where and when to move. The flickering colours and up-tempo music that throw you off at the start become sensory early warning systems, allowing you to detect disturbances in the Force before they happen. Super Hexagon speaks to that core, some might say, forgotten ability of computer games to present ultra-difficult logic puzzles that are surmountable with practice.
Like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, or any of the other arcade thumbscrews that ate all your pocket money, Super Hexagon has a rock-solid central concept and runs with it. If you dodge the shapes for 60 seconds you move to the next level. And so on, advancing through the game's three difficulty settings - Hexagon, Hexagoner and Hexagonest.
For all the thousands of restarts it takes to reach the end of Super Hexagon, the game never grows tired, becoming more and more compulsive with every next go. There's a tendency for people to call games like this "addictive", but that seems like an insulting term for something that is actually utterly compelling.
Super Hexagon is available now on the App Store and we command you to go and get it.