Capsule Review: Hexcells

The first of three games using a puzzle system somewhere between Minesweeper and Picross. Puzzles are presented on a hex grid with numeric clues that allow the player to deduce which cells must be colored in and which must be blanked out. The clues are a mix of Picross-like ones giving information about the cells in a row or column and Minesweeper-like ones giving information about the cells near another cell, but in both cases there’s some extra variation and complexity mixed in.

Incorrect attempts to color or clear a cell will be rejected and will increase a “Mistakes” counter - there’s an achievement for clearing puzzles without mistakes but you are not otherwise punished for making them. The achievement still feels like a misstep to me, since if you’re trying to get it it’s quite frustrating to be most of the way through a puzzle and then have your mouse slip. Restarting the puzzle isn’t fun and it’s also pointless as a punitive measure since you can simply take a screenshot, restart, and then redo everything based on the screenshot.

This first installment has thirty puzzles that will take a couple of hours or so to clear. The mechanics are interesting and cleverly applied, though it’s worth noting that there’s no way to save a partially-completed puzzle and return to it later (again, you can work around this by simply taking a screenshot). Overall, it’s enjoyable deductive gameplay not quite like anything else.

Updated August 20, 2020: While I haven’t tried it myself, a new patch apparently adds the ability to save and return to partially-completed puzzles. Hurray!

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game by solving all puzzles.

Docprof's Rating:

Three Stars: Good. I liked the game enough to finish it (or just play it a bunch, for games that don't end). I recommend it to most genre fans.

You can get it or learn more here.