I’ve been on a puzzle game kick recently – or for the entire past year, really. The calm, methodical solving of pretend problems is exactly what I need while I’m stuck indoors listening to podcasts. The latest is Hexceed, a Minesweeper-ish hexagon clicker that’s free to play on Steam.
Each puzzle begins with a board of blank hexagons, with one pre-marked safe-to-click title. You mark tiles as safe by left-clicking them, which will reveal a number. As in Minesweeper, the number indicates the number of adjacent tiles that are “dangerous”. You mark a dangerous tile by right-clicking. A puzzle is solved when all tiles have been correctly identified.
There’s a wonderful rhythm to this, even in its most basic puzzles. I find that sometimes I’ll need to pause to survey the board while I try to see what the next available move is, but once I spot it, there are often four or five obvious moves to make immediately afterwards. I love this feeling, of going “Oh, I’m stuck,” that then gives way to a flurry of activity as I identify a great swathe of territory without needing to think.
I’ve never been stuck for long, but the puzzles do introduce twists and complications. Tiles can be divided by walls which prevent a numbered tile from reflecting the danger that might be on the other side. Some tiles show the total number of dangerous tiles within a marked region, or in an entire row. You learn to piece this information together pretty quickly, too.
Despite the puzzles being relatively easy to complete so far, they still take some time, and there are lots of them. I’ve been playing for three hours and I’m just about done with the tutorial island, which contains 46 levels. There are 360 more levels to play for free after that.
If I’m hungry for even more after that, its developers are releasing monthly DLC with new levels. Each DLC will cost $1/£0.79, and across the first year they plan on introducing four new mechanics for new levels to utilise. You can also buy a Year 1 Pass for $9/£6.19 that will unlock the first year’s DLC as it releases.
I don’t know yet if I’ll play for long enough to start spending money, but I spend a few quid each month on New York Times crossword packs and have bought enough Picross games from the Nintendo eshop to know its possible.