Simple puzzle games have become less common in gaming as of late. More often, puzzles are incorporated into either platform or adventure titles to diversify gameplay. Games focused solely on puzzles seem to be notably out of fashion.

Hexcells and its expansion Hexcells Plus by Matthew Brown return puzzle games to the PC in their purest form, and the result is glorious.

The gameplay of Hexcells is reminiscent of Minesweeper and Picross, though with enough of its own flair to really shine. The game slowly introduces new puzzle elements as you proceed through the first several levels, yet manages to introduce them quick enough to prevent the puzzles from getting stale.

As you progress and learn the nuance of how  tiles interact and different ways the game gives you information (including Minesweeper’s number of touching tiles and Picross’ number of tiles in a row, column, or diagonal), there is a distinct feeling of satisfaction as you recognize common patterns and sequences unravel in your mind.

hexcellsGameSomething that sets Hexcells apart from most puzzle games is that with careful thought and logic, you will never have to guess. Every level can be completed without ever feeling you made a mistake due to guesswork, and it is extremely satisfying – and sometimes frustrating – to know that everything is on your own shoulders.

The minimalist presentation is ideal for such a simple premise, as all pertinent information is clearly displayed, and conveyed quite clearly, without any background element becoming a distraction. The music is much the same. Suited incredibly well to allow complete focus on the puzzle itself, without being intrusive. The game also has decidedly pleasant musical chimes with every click on a hexagon to either mark or remove a tile.

Hexcells and in particular Hexcells Plus provide an excellent difficulty curve, starting off quite simple in Hexcells and ramping up to mind-bendingly difficult by the end of Hexcells Plus. This may be the game’s only flaw, in that you cannot save a level in-progress. So for a particularly challenging level, you must complete it in one sitting, which can get quite frustrating.

That one problem aside, Hexcells and Hexcells Plus are exactly the game that fans of logic puzzles  want and need to play. Wonderfully simple and genuinely challenging, Hexcells may be the best pure puzzle game you will play in a long time.

Review: Hexcells
Hexcells might be the best pure puzzle game on the PC this generation, and one of the best of all time.
  • No guesswork required
  • Elegant and consistent
  • Excellent difficulty curve
  • No save feature within level
8Overall Score
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About The Author

Deputy Editor

John is a freelance web developer, graphic designer, and budding game developer from the mythical land of Canada, and in his spare time, plays a video game or two and talks about them.

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