I’m a huge puzzle game fan. I’m the guy that’s convinced that I can pack a suitcase or a car better than other people because of the amount of Tetris I’ve played in my lifetime (I swear, it’s true). But for whatever reason hex-based puzzle games are my Achilles heel, I just can’t wrap my head around them. So it was with great trepidation that I waded into HexaRot’s waters and I gotta tell ya... the water’s fine.
Gameplay-wise HexaRot plays out like hex-based games before it. Small different colored triangles make up larger hexes that you can rotate around and through each other. The goal is to line up at least three of the same color, though clearing four at a time nets you serious bonus points. Once joined you score points and the pieces change color. You repeat the process until you score a set amount of points.
The game’s variety comes mostly from the amount of different tiles there are and what shape the overall board comes in. The shape is ever changing and forces you to change strategy by having to work around bottlenecks or along the edges of the board. Of course the variety of tiles only serves to make the game harder, especially when tiles start showing up with pictures on them that you need to match.
There are a few different game modes, though I easily prefer “Relax Wheel” mode, which is really the base game but without the ever dwindling timer. Since I’m still rough around the edges on hex strategy the timer does nothing but make me freeze up in a panic. Maybe at some point I’ll be confident enough to battle against it, but not yet.
The other mode is known as “Magic Wheel” and requires you to position all the pieces on the board into a predefined pattern, which is shown onscreen. You’re not clearing anything; just moving pieces around like a slide puzzle. It’s a fun diversion and is different enough from the main game to be interesting, but for my money the standard game is more fun.
I’d been trying to put my finger on exactly why I took to HexaRot so easily when other hex games had eluded me when suddenly I figured it out: HexaRot has red dots that you tap on to rotate the pieces around it, which makes great sense from a user interface perspective. But having those dots there gave me a reference point and let me imagine each dot was it’s own axle that I could rotate. Using these dots I was able to see in my mind how to easily bring like colored pieces together in order to clear them from the board.
I should mention again the interface design of the dots. To rotate pieces you tap on one of those dots and little arrows swirl around it. Now dragging your finger around anywhere on the screen rotates that piece since it’s the “active” one. This is a much better solution than tapping and dragging on the pieces you want to move since that would inevitably lead to you rotating the wrong pieces.
HexaRot plays it safe and doesn’t attempt to break any new ground in the gameplay department. If you have other hex based puzzle games on your iPhone then this one most likely won’t bring you any unique challenges. However, with my device being hex game free HexaRot fills that void nicely and will be a game I visit quite often. A good puzzle game is hard to find and HexaRot does the job nicely.