One of my plans for this blog is to have a semi-regular introduction to a game or app I like. It can be old or new. So here is my first entry.

Hexcells is a puzzle game series developed by Matthew Brown in 2014. It is available for the iPad and on Windows, Mac and Linux through Steam (these are not affiliate links).

Without going into full detail on the rules: each puzzle is made of a hex grid and the goal is to fill each cell with either a blue or black color based on hints in the form of numbers surrounding it. It is a mix of Minesweeper and Picross. A very simple and tiny example of how it looks:

Image of a simple Hexcell puzzle

There is always a logical way to progress, so you want to solve it without guessing. The “Mistakes” counter will keep track of your failures and you want to keep that at 0. I go so far as, when I make a mistake and therefor know what the actual cell color is, I refuse to fill it until I 100% know why it is that color. Otherwise it feels like cheating to me.

Some like to play the game as fast as possible (the random levels in Infinite have a time display at the end) but I personally don’t care about that. Puzzles are like meditation for me. Sometimes when I’m stuck I sit there for an hour and just look at it. Sometimes it helps to focus on other things in life and occasionally check back until I have that Heureka moment.

The game can be very addictive if you’re into this stuff. My best friend introduced it to me a few years ago and a bit later I also got my dad hooked on it. We still constantly message each other screenshots of a level we’re stuck in, annotate it and send it back. Here is an example of a recent one that we ping-ponged a few times:

Screenshot of Hexcells exchange with my dad

If you want to get it, I recommend the bundle with all three games or if you only want one, take the latest called “Hexcells Infinite” (it’s the one I linked above) because aside from the regular premade levels it also has - as the name suggests - infinite random puzzles and a daily one that is the same for every player. It also includes a basic tutorial for each rule like the first one does, so you’re not missing out on learning how to play. The difficulty curve is a bit steeper than the first one though, so expect to melt your brain about half-way through the main game. It costs less than a Starbucks coffee on both platforms.

The Steam Version recently (10/19/2020) got updated with a hard mode, community level listings (both only for “Infinite”), dark mode and translations for all kinds of languages. Hopefully the iPad Version will get this update as well at some point but who knows.

Speaking of community levels. You can create your own levels if you want by using a tool called SixCells. There is an active Subreddit called /r/hexcellslevels where you can upload those and they will land in the game based on the votes it gets. I personally did not create anything yet though.

I hope I got you interested in the game so the developer gets a few more bucks thrown his way. Tell me what you think about this blog post and/or the game and/or anything that’s on your mind on Twitter @devatrox