Sometimes you don’t want all the bells and whistles that many games seek to deliver. I’m very much a fan of games that seek to pare down the experience down to the essence of what they want to do, leaving extraneous things to the side. Quite often you’ll find games like this from first time developers just dipping their toes into the water which is the case with first Hexacore, brought to us by an enigmatic developer called ZenJam. The experience of Hexacore is anything but zen though, pitting you against a sphere that’ll blow up in your face if you don’t click it fast enough.
The premise is pretty simple, there’s a bunch of hexagons on a sphere and any of them could turn red. Leave them long enough and they’ll explode, doing damage to the core. Too much damage to the core and it’s game over. Layered on top of that are some additional bonus mechanics to assist with ensuring everything gets clicked including time dilation, clear the entire sphere and a couple other mechanics that make getting boosts that much quicker. All in all it’s a pretty simple game on the surface and one I think is not terribly difficult to master.
I initially started off playing 2 handed: one on the mouse doing all the clicking and the other on the directional keys to move the sphere around as I needed it. This worked okay but I soon realised that clicking on the sphere to move it also counted as a click on the hexagon itself. Couple this with the fact that there’s no penalty at all for clicking indiscriminately and I found my winning strategy: click in the general direction of the next red square I want to go after whilst spinning the orb around like a crazy person. This had some rather spectacular results, as you can see below.
Now I’ll have to admit at first blush getting to the top of the leader board wasn’t exactly something I was keen on doing but after my second or third attempt saw me around 30 seconds away from it I figured why the hell not. I haven’t got there yet but I’ve only been playing the game for under half an hour as of writing, so I’m sure with another session or two could see me (or anyone really) taking the top spot without too much hassle. Of course you might be asking “why” and “how did you get in my house” but like many things in life the answer is for the sheer fun of it.
There are some unlockables, including some cosmetics (which just change the primary colours) and upgrades for your powers. If I had to hazard a guess fully unlocking the powers would probably take an hour or so and they would certainly help in getting you to the top of the leaderboard. I only had a couple of them unlocked at time of writing so they’re certainly not required if being the top dog is what you’re after. For me though? Second place after half an hour of play was certainly enough to satisfy me.
I am potentially interested in developing a bot to play this as well. I think a naive one (something that rotates the cube one hexagon and then clicks all of them quickly) could do pretty well up to a point but beyond that I’d have to leverage something akin to what the Rubik’s cube solvers have. It seems like a pretty decent project to cut my AI/ML teeth on so I might have a crack at it in the near future.
Hexacore does what it says on the box. It’s a simple, straightforward puzzle clicker that you can spend a couple minutes or hours on if you’re so inclined. The leaderboard was certainly a nice touch and was definitely my motivation for sticking around as long as I did. It also seems ripe for botting, something which I’ll probably have a crack at when I’m less distracted with other things. Overall I’m pretty happy with Hexacore as it satisfied my need for something simple with an attainable goal.
Hexacore is available on PC right now for $4.50. Total play time was 25 minutes.