Mobile Game of the Week: Super Hexagon (iOS)

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Mobile Game of the Week: Super Hexagon (iOS)

Super Hexagon

Platform: iOS
Developer: Terry Cavanagh
Release Date: 8/31/2012
Price: $0.99

When you first play Super Hexagon you’ll probably make it through ten games in 30 seconds. The game is that hard and sessions are that short. One thing is for sure, though: That 30 seconds will quickly turn into hours if you’re not careful.

I suppose it’s fitting then that Super Hexagon was made entirely in one day by its single creator, Terry Cavanagh. Everything in Super Hexagon is minimalism at its finest. No overarching themes or convoluted storylines to get in the way—just a game that lives and dies on a single refined mechanic.

In Super Hexagon, you control a small triangle trying to survive in a world full of shapes, sounds and colors that would love to engulf you. Rotating left and right around a hexagon is the only action possible, as patterns and obstacles moving in sporadic motions come hurtling toward you. The hexagon in the center pulsates to the pounding electronic drum beats of the music as you stare into the rotating kaleidoscope of patterns and color. It’s a world boiled down to its simplest Platonic elements: lines, points, triangles, hexagons.

The game also lives and dies on the extremely sensitive touch controls that you’re given as a means of survival. When I started out and only made it to 3 seconds, the controls made me feel like a fish out of water. My brain didn’t know what to do with the patterns being thrown at me. I could feel the game’s blistering pace forcing me into a struggle against the controls and the obstacles being thrown at me. I struggled until it finally clicked in my brain like a kid balancing on a bike for the first time. But it only happened once I gave in to the sensations of the game. I had to give up trying to control the game in the way I wanted it to be handled and give into Super Hexagon’s peculiar logic. Only once I fell into its trance did it begin to make sense to my hand-eye coordination. Soon enough I was a synchronized swimmer gracefully gliding through the sea of mazes and obstacles.

While the game still remains incredibly challenging, Super Hexagon understands to a remarkable degree how players progress to that tipping point. This continuous point of revelation—that place where the player and the developer have a real honest moment of communication—is what Super Hexagon gets right. So much so that when I play Super Hexagon, I can hear its maker loud and clear. If for no other reason, that makes Super Hexagon, like many of Terry Cavanagh’s games, a very special experience.