Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Okay, it's fair to say I went on about Hexcells rather a lot in 2014. The reason? It remains the best puzzle game I've ever played. And I play puzzle games.
Nearly every day I play a few games of Link-A-Pix on my phone, complete a Killer Sudoku, Kakuro, Futoshiki, and Codeword, have a round of Alphabear, and if I've time, do a cryptic crossword. I've recently taken to Suguru, discovered some amazing new puzzles in a fantastic magazine called Beyond Sudoku, and have an obsession with Slitherlink. I love puzzles. And Hexcells is my favourite of all them.
Creator Matthew Brown has produced three Hexcells titles, the original, Plus, and Infinite. Each is tougher than the one before, each embellishing on the bespoke puzzles further, requiring you to work out which cells to highlight and which to eliminate using a variety of means.
On top of that, each game has extraordinarily relaxing ambient music, the second and third even allowing the music to be affected by your clicks. It creates an extraordinarily soothing experience, despite your brain being stretched pretty hard. And I promise that every puzzle has a distinct path to its solution, with no guessing ever required. It may not seem like it, but it's true. If you feel you have to guess, it means there's a new method you've not thought of yet.
Infinite came with a seeded puzzle generator that in some sense gives you millions more puzzles to play, but without Brown's genius hand-crafted design the magic is certainly missing. However, there are around 90 of those bespoke wonders to play and replay and replay, as I have so very many times in the last couple of years. Don't miss out on these.