Developer: Triplezero
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Word-based puzzle games are a dime a dozen, yet we find ourselves hopelessly addicted to them. It may have something to do with our species’ tendency to want to look for patterns and create some sort of order out of chaos. I’m sure every letter-scrambling aficionado out there remembers sinking countless hours into Bookworm a decade ago – or whatever trademark-dodging Scrabble knockoff was available on Yahoo’s online games portal. I know I certainly do. So whenever something “new” comes down the tube, there’s a natural tendency to brush it aside, muttering “seen it” under our collective breath. But while all of these games grow out of the basic roots that Scrabble and Boggle established, now and then we get some twist on a theme that make us take notice and remember why they’re so universally appealing in the first place, if only for a few moments.

Enter: Hexiled.

HexiledHexiledFloating against the backdrop of a starry void, players are presented with a giant field of hexagons containing randomized letters. In order to escape from exile in the center of this field of hexes (ahh! Get it?), players must create words from adjacent tiles in order to carve a path to the border of the tile field and into the vastness of space beyond. The one catch is that at least a single letter must touch previously existing open space.

The core principle is very quick to pick up on, with only a couple of basic twists thrown into the mix. The first is the obligatory countdown timer, with successive successful escapes shaving a little bit off of the clock each time, making future wins a little tougher (though losing a round and breaking an ongoing streak adds a few seconds back on). The second is that specific tiles have a number attached to them, indicating a minimum length for how many letters the word they’re used in needs to be. There are also hex-bombs which detonate an area of letters surrounding them when they’re used inside a word.

The final score screen offers some neat tidbits, like showing all of the words you used to clear the level and what their definitions are. A few of the definitions seemed not quite on point to me and a fair few are left undefined, but even still it’s neat to see that the word I matched by accident actually means something (sadly, KWYJIBO is not one of the options).

HexiledHexiledHexiled offers a couple of other modes (Explore and Survive) but they’re locked in the free version, only becoming available after playing 100 and 500 games, respectively – provided players don’t feel like dropping two bucks to get there sooner. The average player may well tire of the basic mode before reaching those heavy milestones, however.

Hexiled is simple and enjoyable enough, but lacks a real draw to keep players coming back over and over again. It feels more like a good proof of concept that an especially compelling final product. But then again, the joy of the App Store is that updates can very easily change a whole game overnight. Not that I’m expecting such, but a guy can dream, right?


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