by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
Honesty is the best policy
I should be perfectly honest before I delve into the meat of this review: I’m not a huge fan of twin stick shooters. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them; on the contrary, when done properly, I find that twin stick shooters can be amazingly enjoyable experiences. Look no further than Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved to see why. But given the choice, I would rather spend my time playing other types of games.
You may wonder why I hold that opinion, and the answer is simple. For every Geometry Wars, there is a game like Hexodius that counters it. For every game that has fast paced addictive gameplay, there is one that is slow and plodding. For every game that is simple and uncomplicated, there is one that features a banal and boring narrative that has no reason to exist. And for every time I want to play just one more time, there is another time where I wish it would end even sooner. Welcome to Hexodius, Destroyer of Fun.
I've seen this before
Hexodius is your typical twin stick shooter, in that you can move with one stick of a controller and shoot with the other. Or, if a keyboard is preferred, aim and shoot with your mouse while using the keyboard to move. There are several different game modes found in the game, ranging from simple kill everything missions to destroying generators before the time runs out. If you’ve played a twin stick before, you’ll know what you’re dealing with here. There are few surprises to be found in Hexodius.
And that’s really the sad part in all this. I’ve done all this before in other games, and those games have all done it better than what can be found here. Take a basic kill everything mission as an example. In other games in the genre, enemies will come at you at a fast pace and in different types and quantities in order to keep you on your toes. In Hexodius, while there is a healthy mixture of enemy types that will spawn, they will all come one at a time from a singular spawn point in a row, never mixing up the types of enemies at each point. As a result I would merely stand in front of a spawn point holding down the fire button, killing every enemy before I had the chance to see them. That doesn’t scream fun, does it?
Repetition is the mother of all...boredom
Or, for another example, look at the upgrade system. As you move through the game you can unlock and purchase various upgrades to your craft, ranging from passive upgrades that enhance armor and speed to turrets and new weapon types that can be used on the battlefield. While fine in theory, in practice I utilized the same set of upgrades from beginning to end, because they functioned so well that I never really needed any of the other items. It's fine to have variety, but if I can use the upgrades found in the first stage throughout the entire game without changing them up, balanced weapons would be much more appreciated.
Not to say that every aspect of the game is bad. While the various game modes get incredibly repetitive within the first hour of gameplay, the boss levels at the end of each of the game’s stages are welcome breaths of fresh air. The first boss was fast paced and required me to move around far more than I ever did in the normal stages, and for a moment I thought that this would be the kind of gameplay that I could get behind. But these boss fights can’t help overcome the repetitiveness that is found in the normal missions.
Supporting the gameplay is a narrative that is quite possibly the most unneeded story I’ve found in a game all year. It involves you and a little robot trying to put a stop to an A.I. that has suddenly gone rogue or something along those lines. I skipped through most of the dialogue, as it always prevented me from enjoying what little there is to enjoy about Hexodius. Sometimes it is worth it to not have a story in a game, because it can get in the way of what truly makes that game enjoyable. And while Hexodius wasn’t particularly enjoyable to begin with, its story certainly didn’t help matters.
Well, it looks okay
On a graphical and aesthetic point of view, Hexodius doesn’t commit any grave sins. It's not the most striking of games that can be found nowadays, but it's also not bad to look at. Nondescript is the word that comes to mind actually, in that it's something that I will not remember once I finished it. Same goes for the music, which is your everyday run of the mill electronica that seems to pop up so often in games nowadays. It won’t be getting any points for originality, but perhaps that is for the best in the long run.
Hexodius is the kind of game that you’re likely to forget a week after finishing it. That is, if you're not bored to tears by the time you do finish it. Trust me when I say that there are many more experiences that are better worth your time and money, because this is the kind of game that will make you ask yourself “Why did I buy this again?”
Fun boss fights, Functions properly
Repetitive, banal story, unmemorable