Let’s be honest for a second. Videogames are drugs. You know it and I know it. You know how it is, when you’ve got a good one, and everything just clicks into place, and your synapses start firing binary coded pixellated hadoukens directly up your dopamine receptors’ asses, and your eyeballs go rectangular, and you’re riding an endorphin-tsunami with a big stupid grin on your face until you fuck up or someone pulls the plug. That’s drugs. At least if you’re doing it right.
It’s weird to talk about a game of which I’ve only seen the first fifty three seconds. But Super Hexagon is a weird game. Created by indie darling Terry Cavanagh of VVVVVVV (which I haven’t played so shut up) fame, SH puts you in the shoes of a triangle, which for the sake of clarity I’ll call Triangle. Triangle can go left OR right (!) as he (triangles are male, look it up) flies through a 2600 wasteland of shifting, pulsating enemies heretofore referred to as Shapes. The Shapes want to hug Triangle, but they are made of hot lava and will kill Triangle if they touch him… or something…
Look, give me a fucking break. This isn’t exactly The Witcher in terms of backstory, okay? You tap on the left or right sides of the screen to fly a triangle through a maze; there, you happy? The game looks like something I wrote in LOGO in fifth grade, sounds like the fifth circle of Streets-of-Rage-Bossfight-Hell, and has a grand total of two controls. All of which begs the question WHY CAN’T I STOP PLAYING THIS FUCKING GAME?!?!?!?!
Because games are drugs, and this is some good shit. Simple as that. If you cracked open my skull right now, you’d find a pulsating neon hexagon sending candy-colored thumps of light out across its membranes like a Chinese lantern on Ecstacy. There is a part of our brain that doesn’t get much use now that we on the whole don’t have very many opportunities to fight off saber-toothed tigers. Traceurs have it; kickboxers have it; that Max Payne bullet-doging thing. It’s latent in all of us, only we almost never use it these days. That cold-tingle rush of catching a dropped glass is the closest we get to that mind-state anymore, sitting there shrunken and atrophied under a fatty layer of Diet Coke and Twitter.
Well, the thing about SH is, while you’re playing it you’re in that state THE WHOLE TIME. Through a simple combination of sight, sound, and a steadily accelerating playing field, SH drags out out over the edge of that fight-or-flight, reptile-brain mode and holds you there, dangling, squealing into the abyss, until that unflappable bitch tells you “Game Over” A-FUCKING-GAIN.
Look, I’m not making myself understood. The neckbearded ham-trolls out there are already hotkeying their handy dandy “muhh, too long” macro in the comments section below. The thing you need to get is this:
The best moments in gaming are those Matrix moments, when you tap into some primal energy source within yourself and accomplish things you had no idea were possible, leaving helpless but to bellow your tiumphal caveman yawp out into the night and scare your dog. And THAT’s Super Hexagon in a nutshell. That’s the state you’re in the whole minute or so the game lasts. And just like those rats with the switch wired to their pleasure centers, you’ll play again and again and again and again. For instance: I’ve played a round (or six) in between each of these paragraphs. And I’m up to fifty-FIVE seconds, bitches.
iOS Game Review: Super Hexagon by Terry Cavanagh