Nathan Gray has decided it was time to reinvent the scrambled, jumbled, and sometimes infuriating pass-time that is dominated by scrabble and it’s clones. Putting words together for point value on a board is nothing new. In fact it’s been done for quite sometime, but it has almost always been done on a square grid board with only two directions to choose from. Hexalex brings a new twist to the old favorite by taking on a new shape. As one can already guess, the hexagon is now preparing to drop bombs on all the squares. In today’s short list I’m going to cover as much ground as possible. We are going to look at gameplay, features and options, as well as value. So let’s get buzzin’.
The game play in Hexalex takes a little bit to get used to, but once you do, it brings a whole new dimension to your game. This ain’t you’re grand-daddy’s scrabble, no sir. Firstly, one thing you’re bound to notice as being different is the fact that the board and letter tiles are all hexagonal, along with the cells that you place the tiles on. As you would expect, the tiles have point values, and the cells may also contain modifiers to up your score. As usual you start at the core and work your way outwards, building up a strong vocal, and a sneaky sense of how to confuse, and control your opponent’s moves. Along with a new shape for all things, you now have the ability to add words to the board in a diagonal fashion. Meaning that you may spell out “former”, and “lover”, and join them together at the “r”. One going from the north west part of the board, to the south east, while the second word is going straight from west to east. The game also has it set as a rule that certain two letter words are acceptable, even if they don’t make any sense to you or me. These are viewed as incidentals and can help block your opponent from making a triple word score on the word “prostitute”. After all, if you can’t save your buddy from a thing like that; what kind of friend are you?
Features and options are pretty rich here, and that just makes this game even more worth your hard earned AppStore credits. Face Book has assimilated another into the fold here, and lets you not only post your score, but also lets you find new people to crush with your ungodly vast and huge vocab. In the new game option, you can select two modes of play. Local, and internet. That’s right kids, even if your little sister is at home watching youtube non-stop, while you slave away at summer school, you two can battle it out to see who reigns as dictionary dork supreme! This feature works over both wifi, and even though it can be painfully slow, over 3G as well. One really cool feature here is the ability for the game to send you push notifications regarding new challenges, and turn updates. So you can still read your favorite tech reviewer, which would be me I hope, and then resume betting down said little sister once she has made her move. You can also use the face book integration to brag about really kick ass words that you have dug up. And should you need help trying to figure out if you either spelled that word right, or if it’s really a word at all, you can look it up in the in game dictionary. Sadly, it doesn’t define the word, but just simply says whether you have a valid word or not. Which is good enough for the most part. While you and your sister are playing the game, you can use the in game chartroom feature to discuss a wager if you so choose. Loser does Dad’s dirty socks for a month is my favorite bet. However, game play is not just limited to just two players, you can actually join up to four players for a fun match online, or in pass to play. As each of you play along, you’ll rack up points, and medals, and you can post your progress to face book, or keep to yourself locally in game.
Let’s talk value. (Wow, do I sound like a used car salesman or what?) At $2.99, here in the US, this game is a steal. I find it to be a wonderful competitor to the classic scrabble game, and actually find it a little more challenging and fun. So, I suppose we all could do without that mocha late to go today right? Well, maybe not, but certainly three green backs isn’t that huge of a loss. The only one draw back to this game I could see coming down the pike could be if Nathan either hasn’t already made this app universal between the iPhone, and the iPad, or if he plans on making you re-buy it as an HD version. I have to be honest, I’ve not double checked to see if it is universal, but I don’t remember it showing up in my iTunes that way. One last thing I should probably mention, when you run the game the first time you’ll have to make an account with Hexalex, but fortunately it’s free. Perhaps in the future Nathan will make other games that could use this account to also keep track of in game achievements for you across all his games. We shall see.
In conclusion, ladies, and jelly-spoons, I would have to rate this game a 9/10. This game hits a home run. It’s only real down side is the slight learning curve about the two letter words, but fortunately there is a built in dictionary that will tell you all of them so you can learn what they are if you’re so inclined to do so. The game is solid, and did not crash on either my phone or the person’s phone who helped me test the two player mode over 3G. Even though it did take three tries the first time to get a game going, but it worked out in the end. If i might make one small suggestion. I still have TWO games running in my queue that are just floating there. Perhaps adding the ability to edit in progress games, so you can delete them if they aren’t going to be finished, would be a nice addition.
Game rated on a ten point scale.