Hexcells Trilogy 2.0

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.

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  1. When I tell people this is one of my favorite games of all time they look at me like I’m crazy. It is easily the best puzzle game I have ever played and it’s thanks to your hyping of it that got me to play it. The update is great too. There’s a hard mode for the puzzle generator! And he added the user created levels so you don’t have to copy and paste them into the clipboard and hope it works correctly!

  2. Hexcells are some of my favorite games. Anytime I need to cool off mentally, they are a go to. It is so calming and peaceful.
    I just checked on Steam and it says I have 117 hours on Hexcells: Infinite. That might seem like a lot for a simple puzzle game, but it is something special to me.

  3. Also, Hexcells Infinite now has an infinite ‘hard’ mode, which actually is very hard!
    The handcrafted puzzles are perfect, but these generated ones come astoundingly close.

  4. I have to echo Aaron’s comment, your recommendation of these games has given me many happy hours of puzzling.

    I shall not touch the hem of your garment in case your hexing brilliance scalds me.

  5. John, seeing as you didn’t mention them above, it seems there’s at least a passing chance you’ve not explored the user levels from the hexcellslevels subreddit, now browsable via the game as Aaron mentioned above. If you haven’t, you really should, they’re a wonderful extension of the game and go some way towards fulfilling your request for squillions more hand-crafted puzzles.

    There’s some duff ones, but I’d say at least two thirds are up to the standard of the main game, and some are genuinely brilliant. Many employ interesting custom rules. You should probably just work your way from the start, but most sets by hexcellence are, well, excellent, and would be a good place to start. It had dried up in the last year or so, but 2.0 seems to have sparked new interest, hurrah!

    The hard mode of the generator also seems like a big improvement. I didn’t think it was up to much before, but the new version has produced puzzles I enjoyed solving, although I’ve only had a go at two so far. I don’t know if it’s because of hard mode or general improvements to the generator that will also benefit the normal mode.

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