By John Walker on February 20th, 2014 at 6:00 pm.
If for some reason you were wanting to play Hexcells, because it’s the best new puzzle game this decade, but you couldn’t bring yourself to do it without its being on Steam, all is now resolved. Matthew Brown’s sublime puzzlers are on the big grey store for £2 each, or the pair for £3.50.
As I have often mentioned, I adore pure puzzle games. My year-long obsession with Killer Sudoku took a back(toilet)seat after discovering the pure joy of Kakuro, although this too is now being set aside having stumbled upon Campixu. Oh Campixu, how I love thee. And how desperately I wish thee would get an Android or 3DS app smartish. Right now I have three different copies of a former German puzzle magazine called Logic Pixels scattered in various parts of the house, ordered from mein-presseshop via the magic of Google Translate, just so I can get at more of these post-Picross wonders. I fall asleep playing Flow Free on my phone (presently while listening to the mellifluous voice of Grover Gardner reading me The Stand), and can’t let a day go by without completing the Telegraph’s cryptic crossword. (Don’t worry, I’m not mad – I don’t buy the paper – I get it from their puzzle site.) I regale you with all this to emphasise the significant role puzzle games play in my life.
And it is into this context that I celebrate Hexcells as the best I’ve played in years.
While at first glance it’s possible to see this as a hexagonal Minesweeper, it’s so important to put such a notion as far out of your head as possible. Hexcells has far more in common with the wonderful Picross (Nonograms), combined with the sorts of mental acrobatics that are needed for something like the sublime Slitherlink. As you play, more elements are introduced to the puzzles, until their complexity becomes a thing or purest joy. By the time you’re halfway through Hexcells Plus, you’ll have developed such an arsenal of techniques that you’ll feel like some sort of puzzling god.
I implore you to see for yourself. And no, I promise I’m not on commission for this game, despite my repeated plugging of it. I just love it to bits, and have received so many tweets and emails from people thanking me for alerting them to it. Also, I hope that if I can make the game popular enough, Brown will be forced to make new levels for it, and stop me from needing to play them both through for a fifth time.