(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)
- The Game Itself
- 1.5 Stars
- The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
- 1.5 Stars
- The Audio: Rating the Sound
- 0.5 Stars
- Replay Factor
- 0.5 Stars
- Bottom Line
- Skip It
- Street Date:
- October 16th, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Nick Hartel
- Review Date:1
- November 28th, 2013
- Game Release Year:
- Xbox 360
- Brain Slap Studio
- Brain Slap Studio
- ESRB Rating:
- E10+ (Everyone 10 and older)
Xbox 360 version reviewed.
While the technology that makes the twin-stick shooter an easy possibility on any gaming system is relatively new, the concept of the twin-stick shooter has origins that stretch many years back to the days of 'Space Invaders.' The modern concept though is more prominently recognized by the Bizarre Creations series, 'Geometry Wars,' which to date has spawned no less than 4 spin-offs/sequels. Enter 'Hexodius,' at its core a very basic twin-stick shooter that sets out to pull in genre fans and newcomers by the promise of dungeon-crawling.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Believe it or not, but 'Hexodius' has a plot. It definitely didn't need one given the simplicity of the genre and the expectation from most fans that any game of this particular genre is able to hold up on its own merits of quality game play. To make a long story short though, 'Hexodius' throws you into a generic future world revolving around a sinister AI creation.
Right out of the box, players are plunked down into the world of 'Hexodius' somewhat unique approach to game play via an overworld system consisting of, wait for it, hexes. To progress towards the end goal, players must enter various stages that very quickly establish themselves as flimsy variations on the same theme, or bluntly put, shoot everything and try to survive. Spicing up this rinse and repeat formula is a pseudo-RPG approach to design in terms of power-ups.
Controls are really the only strong suit of 'Hexodius' with the left stick controlling movement and the right stick controlling a 360-degree firing arc. There is a bit of inaccuracy at times in the shooting, not evident in early stages, but often the difference between life and death in the latter ones, when enemy swarms are unrelenting. As you kill a very small roster of enemies (including one variation that is reminiscent of the capture ships in 'Galaga') you earn energy and eventually credits, which are both vital to unlocking the full potential of the games, upgrade system. Now before you get too excited, 'Hexodius' sought to replace the standard occasional power-up with upgrade slots you can fill to unleash devastating attacks, strategically defend against frantic attacks, or increase your overall speed, just to name a few. These upgrades can really be purchased in any order and after applying them to a slot and corresponding gamepad face button for activation can be upgraded at least one more time. While I initially found this approach refreshing, it becomes obvious, quickly, that upgrading everything doesn't take a lot of effort.
That brings us back to the actual game play, what little of there exists. The hex shaped board, the upgrades, the collecting of keys to unlock areas of the board, the incomprehensible underdeveloped story are all there to mask how shallow of a game 'Hexodius' is and it really works…for not quite an hour. Missions consist of three variations on the tried-and-true "survive the attack" method of throwing wave after wave of enemies after you, ad-nauseum, with the occasional "ally" (read: fixed point on the map you need to pay attention to) to protect or boss (read: visually interesting linked wave) to fight. Along the way you'll face enemies who try and crash into you, those who shoot (both quick, flight based attackers and stationary sentry guns with a wonky range that you can stay just outside of and pummel to death,) and literal tanks. It's a blast for that first hour and first few levels, but then it just keeps going, not content to stop until four times past its welcome and you're questioning what exactly your free time is worth.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The visuals of 'Hexodius' are nothing special, harkening back to the early days of XBLA releases, even looking a bit lacking for last generation. Colors are vibrant but the overall palette is limited and the equally limited animations of both you and your enemies can result in a graphical blur of undefined shapes and hues. To make matters worse, design variety on the levels is extremely limited and the game lacks the on-screen pop one might expect.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Reaching even lower depths are the repetitive "retro" sounds of the game, with the flat accompanying score being the biggest offender and the laughable effects only heightening the level of sheer disappointment. If such a bare bones approach was intentional, then someone on the design team needs a lesson in minimalism, because the concept doesn't have to equate to tacky and cheap.
The lone replay value in 'Hexodius' is in beating the game at different difficulty levels; normally you're allowed a set number of lives before you have to start back at the last checkpoint, but on the games' most nail biting difficulty setting, losing all your lives means your save game is wiped; yes, you can always spend your upgrade cash to repair (read: refill your lives), but with the game's right stick occasionally being imprecise in the latter stages, who wants to risk such aggravation for no reward, other than bragging rights related to a less than mediocre game.
I truthfully had fun with 'Hexodius' for a good 45-minutes before I realized it was a case of a digital "Emperor's New Clothes," trading on the goodwill of gamers familiar with "Geometry Wars" and its ilk. Overly long, shallow in every way, and sub-par on a technical sense, 'Hexodius' is even more an insult with its steep $10 price tag; even at 10% of that cost, I'd struggle to find anything done well enough here to justify a purchase when a tidy selection of superior genre entries have been available for a few years. 'Hexodius' is a huge step backwards and entirely incompetent as a whole package.
- Digital Download
- Dolby Digital 5.1
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