Originally posted on my blog at http://takeaimandgame.blogspot.com/
I've always been a fan of the classic arcade style of gameplay. Easy-to-learn mechanics and a relatively high skill ceiling make this kind of game perfect for killing ten minutes or challenging everything you've got for a new high score, especially now that the coin-eating component is (mostly) obsolete.
Hexodius is a recent iteration of that classic formula, and it plays the role pretty well. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking about it, but it is a solid twin-stick shooter, and therefore worthy of your attention if you're into that sort of thing.
First, the basics: Hexodius is essentially your standard shoot 'em up. You work through stages flooded with waves of enemies, destroying everything you can for the highest score possible. Classic arcade action at its finest.
Game modes are divided between a "story" campaign, which uses a thin plot to push you through a quasi-nonlinear series of arenas and boss fights, and an "arcade" mode, in which you have three minutes to beat your friends' high scores.
It's a simple formula, but it's executed nicely. The story mode has levels with a variety of objectives, keeping things interesting as you trudge through dozens of stages. The boss fights can be taxing, especially if you're going for the highest possible rank, but the other levels tend to be pretty forgiving, making them feel like filler after sinking a few hours into the game.
Progressing through the story mode unlocks six different arcade mode arenas; those arenas are where the game's challenge really shines. Earning an "A" rank in any arcade arena is an impressive feat, as it requires quick thinking and reflexes to get the necessary score. It's definitely a case of "easy to learn, hard to master."
In a slight deviation from the standard shoot 'em up style, Hexodius gives you the opportunity to equip up to four secondary weapons and three upgrades, adding a tactical element to the genre. I found myself settling on one particular arrangement for the majority of the story mode, but when tackling the arcade, incremental advantages start to have huge implications. It's nice to be able to experiment with different equipment to find the one that fits your playstyle best.
It all works out pretty well, giving a simple but smooth action experience. There's not a whole lot of flourish, but the fundamental mechanics are sound, so the game tends to be pretty fun. The individual stages can usually be completed within five minutes, too, so it's a great game for killing a little time here and there. It's great entertainment in short bursts, only really showing its major flaws if you dedicate a few straight hours to it.
If you're going for the full 400 Gamerscore in this one, you need to plan on some dedication. There are three achievements that are likely to give you some kind of trouble: beating the game on the hardest difficulty is certainly doable, but it might take several tries on the last few bosses. Completing the boss rush mode is similarly difficult. The biggest challenge, though, is an "A" rank on each arcade arena; that one requires a combination of patience, skill, and luck, and I can definitely see this one being the achievement that keeps many hunters from a full completion.
As for the superficial side of things, there's nothing to impressive to see or hear with this one. The music and sound effects are forgettable, and the graphics are pretty much standard fare for this kind of thing these days.
The story mode took me a little over five hours to complete (according to the in-game clock), but it seems like there's near-infinite replayability in the arcade if you're interested in securing a spot at the top of the leaderboards. As such, there's probably not enough content to justify the price of admission for your average gamer, but fans of twin-stick shooters or players looking for the occasional ten-minute filler will find a solid title in Hexodius.
My Rating: 6/10 - decent.(For more info on my rating system, including overall stats, see http://takeaimandgame.blogspot.com/p/reviews.html)