Hexodius is a game with ambition. Sometimes, taking a trip back in time to the days of leaderboards, power-ups, and an incentive to show off as you wield weapons is a breath of fresh air. This type of fresh air is exactly what the game industry needs among all the moral dilemmas, side quests, sharing buttons, and various other effects that cause studios to go completely bankrupt in short order. Even though these old style games were simple in construction, they had to be designed with just as much care as today’s blockbuster titles.
Simple is all well and good of course, but it’s a problem when the simple aspects of creation feel as if they were designed just to have a finished product. That’s when flaws start popping up faster than benign tumors. Brain Slap Studio and Bandai Namco Entertainment must have had a unique New Year’s resolution in the year when they designed Hexodius, because the game plays like a half assembled arcade game.
With its blend of twin-stick shooting, exploration, and customization, Hexodius invites players to explore the vast complex, equip their drone with powerful items and upgrades, and ultimately escape the clutches of the deadly enemy droids in a blaze of laser fire. It is unfortunate that the invitation is more tantalizing then the actual party inside.
This arena style shooter tries hard to be the next Geometry Wars remake and yearns for that game’s solid foundation, but just fails on many levels. Hexodius misses almost everything it was going for. There’s a campaign nestled in here somewhere with a story to match, or at least I assume so. I wasn’t able to learn what the story was because, I’m guessing, the story was told via the scrolling text that popped up between the stages. Due to the size of the text, I might as well have been reading a cuisine menu in Klingon.
The campaign opens up to a large hex-grid map, the first of six such worlds in the game that soon look so familiar the level design team could have used them in court to claim copyright infringement on each other. Despite the twiddled down content of the gameplay (which might soon have you feeling as if your brain is melting out of your ear), this is a very accessible game to the physically disabled and the colorblind. The left analog stick is used to move and the right is used to shoot. The game is not accessible to anyone with a substantial visual impairment however. It was extremely hard for me to tell the difference between myself and the enemies that came rushing at me from every which direction, showing my cackling friends just how outmatched I was even on the simplest difficulty.
There are a few minutes of fun here but the game places a huge emphasis on some mechanics and leaves the rest of the design to wilt like dead flowers. The ship upgrading is expansive, but I’ve already mentioned that the level designs could make their own cases for plagiarism. This, coupled with very little enemy variety, ultimately leaves the wonderment as to why so much emphasis is placed into the “epic” customization system.
Hexodius is an invite back to the olden days where leaderboards dominated lunch table conversations, but that’s all it is – an invite that makes your tolerance drop quicker than IQ points after watching daytime TV. Despite its ease of playability for the physically disabled, there isn’t even enough verity and content to warrant Hexodius to be a game – especially for the price it still touts on Xbox Live and Steam. Gamers with significant visual impairments will have new reasons to question their eyesight, and the true nostalgia hungry fans will be vastly disappointed at the lack of content compared to other modern arcade classics like Geometry Wars.
Accessibility Rating: 4/10
A Xbox 360 review copy of Hexodius was provided by the publisher for this review.