PC, Mac, Linux
Hexcells is the best puzzle game ever made. Is a thing I’ve said before, and maintain. And mean. In a far larger scale than even that implies. Hexcells – and by the name I mean all three games in the trilogy as one super-game, like a Transformer of puzzling perfection – is not only the best puzzle game on sale, but it’s the best puzzle. It’s better than Slitherlink, Killer Sudoku, Picross… Oh gosh do I really mean that? Yes! I really do.
I mean, you might wrongly disagree with your wrong mind. “Personal taste” you might wrongly argue. “But you can’t play these on paper,” your wrong mouth might wrong out loud. But all I can offer is sympathy. Because Hexcells is the best puzzle ever.
The goal of any Hexcells puzzle is to correctly identify all the hexes that should be shaded blue, and to click-to-delete all the rest. A sort of combination of a nonogram and Minesweeper (although I deeply loathe the comparison with the latter, since it’s such an obnoxiously terrible puzzle), each of the three sets of 36 puzzles grew increasingly complex and involved.
There’s never any guessing, always a fair and logical route to the next click, with these hand-crafted puzzles designed with wit, almost an authorial narrative, as you unpick their fiendish path. And that would have been enough, but then they’re presented in a clean, crisp minimalist fashion with joy-inducing ambient music into which you play soothing notes as you solve.
Not content with already having made the best puzzle game ever featuring the best puzzles ever, crazed genius creator Matthew Brown has just given the six-year-old trilogy a new coat of paint, tidied things up, and most importantly of all, stopped Hexcells Plus from artificially delaying how your clicks became part of the soundtrack.
I know that last point sounds flippant, but it took something away, made your clicks feel less a part of the poetry. Now all is sublime, made even more approachable and appreciable thanks to the inclusion of a Dark Mode. Everything needs a Dark Mode. I’ve brute-forced one into the WordPress CMS in which I’m typing these very words.
See. And also see every screenshot accompanying this post.
Further, everything is crisped up, slightly prettier, and joy of joys, it has sensible in-game options at long, long last. You can now in-game switch over the mouse button settings! Hooray! And the last mad oddity of before is gone: the puzzle numbers now match the ones in the menus.
Gosh I love playing Hexcells. I play all three through at least twice a year, and each time get stuck on exactly the same puzzles in exactly the same places. You’d think I’d eventually learn, but nope. Although I’m unquestionably good at these games now! I can finish the first, Hexcells Prime as it should have been renamed, in about 25 minutes, no mistakes. Yes, you can touch the hem of my garment.
Plus takes a couple of hours because it’s lots harder! Infinite many more, because they’re flipping corkers, and I adore them and want to kiss them and marry them and die with them on our own private island.
I have to admit to being disappointed Brown didn’t create a few more levels after all these years. I mean, I did tell him to. Although I do rather hope his restored interest in tweaking such joyous puzzles (rather than completely impenetrable games for space-geniuses) might suggest he has something up his sleeve. I mean, I can dream.
If you have the games already, they’ll have updated for you now. If you’ve not, then I hope I’ve made it reasonably clear that these are worth getting. The best thing you could do for yourself is pick up all five of Brown’s logic puzzle games in one go, because they’re all amazing, and you can get the lot for less than £10. Or you can get all three Hexcells games for £6 (a couple of quid cheaper than buying them all separately).
Despite having played them so very many times, for so very many years, they still evoke a state of bliss for me. The combination of such perfect designs plus the soothing, elevating ambient tunes, is my happy place. I think it could be yours too.
- Matthew Brown