Developer: Cyber Dog
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics/Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

It often seems apps have encouraged a sort of fast approach to life, given the devices on which they appear. Swipe, tap, and do it quickly for instantaneous results, or because a timer is ticking away, silently judging the lack of points being accrued. Among the games on the iPhone that bucks the trend, HEX IT asks its players to pause, think, and not rush in too quickly. It revels in its difficulty, expecting a different approach.

Which is to say, a board is laid out with various gems. At any time, swiping a finger around a hexagon causes it to rotate either clock- or counter-clockwise. The goal is to match the various color machinations pointed out in outlines (which can be enabled with a small eye icon in the lower portion of the screen). Do that and that particular level is finished!

Which is hardly the full extent of the game. Along the way come gems that are either ticking time bombs that need be surrounded a particular color in a set number of rounds, chains that mean a gem cannot be moved, and rainbow-colored gems that count for any. They’re slowly introduced as the game gradually becomes more difficult.

Which doesn’t quite account for the two other ways of tackling the game. First, the number of moves taken to solve a particular level determine the star rating. This can range from absolutely zero to three stars, with indecision and mucking about causing the former, while precise and fewer movements achieve the latter. The onus is not so much on time spent, but on the amount of moves taken, therefore discouraging just willy-nilly spinning gems around to see how they go about the board (unless, of course, the star rating is of no particular interest). However, after a level has been solved, a time attack option pops up; assuming that the board is now better understood, there is a timer that slowly starts ticking down, as fingers frantically swipe to achieve the desired puzzle configuration before time’s up.

As a difficult game designed to cause scratching of the head and furrowing of the eyebrows, it succeeds phenomenally. However, it seems it could be helped by not just relying on the colors of its gems, to accommodate people with various forms of color blindness. Also, control-wise, sometimes the spinning seems far more finicky than it ought, with myself raising a single eyebrow a few times as the gems spun around as if in some chemistry lab experiment. Its thirty levels have quite a bit to offer, however, providing that little tinge of success that comes with a daunting challenge.

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