Capsule Review: The Hex

Several game protagonists from different (fictional) franchises are gathered in a tavern on a stormy night… and one of them is planning a murder. That’s the frame story, presented as essentially a point-and-click adventure. You also play as each protagonist in turn, flashing back to their (fictional) source games and learning each one’s dark past. Gameplay thus encompasses a variety of genres including a collectathon platformer, a tactical RPG, a top-down shooter, and more.

The Hex is effectively an anthology both mechanically and narratively. Each sub-game gets about an hour in the spotlight, and while their gameplay varies somewhat in depth none of it drags. Not every player will enjoy or be good at every type of gameplay that’s featured, but this is accounted for with every sub-game receiving narratively-contextualized features to increase approachability. There’s a lot of storytelling through mechanics and playing with the fourth wall along the way, and the best moments come when genres mix in surprising ways.

Unfortunately, the overarching frame story is not cohesive. While it does build to a specific conclusion which resolves the key questions of the murder mystery, not all of the narrative threads pull in the same direction and I found the ending a bit forced and unsatisfying. As with this developer’s previous work, there’s a bit more context hidden behind in-game secrets and an internet scavenger hunt, but it seems to exist mainly to justify secret-hunting and doesn’t really improve the story.

As the work of a single developer, The Hex is an impressive achievement presenting what amounts to several small enjoyable games with clever stories in a wide variety of genres, elevated further by some well-placed moments of intertextuality. It’s a shame that the frame story doesn’t live up to this promise and leaves the game as merely the sum of its parts - but plenty of those parts are memorable and well worth experiencing.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game, though I missed many secrets. The ending left me disappointed, but thinking back to how much I enjoyed earlier portions of the game, I don’t regret spending the time to play it.

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.