Terry Cavanagh is a genius. He is also a motherfucker. Let me explain.
distractionware's second commercial release, Super Hexagon is an immediately accessible game - its simple controls allow anyone with a grasp of the left and right arrow keys to play it, and its trippy, neon visuals and throbbing, ravey chiptune soundtrack are appealing from the start - and yet it is a game that will make you love and hate it in equal measure.
Everything about Super Hexagon's presentation is aesthetically pleasing, to be sure, but also serves only to infuriate you. The mechanics are simple enough that the game would not be very challenging if presented in a more straightforward way, but the way the walls come in just a little too fast, the way the frame is just a little too tight to let you plan ahead effectively, the way the colors meld and the field constantly rotates, constantly changes direction at exactly the wrong time, are what really create the challenge. It's a goal you know that you can accomplish, if only you could filter out all the excess information and avoid any mistakes for long enough to complete a stage.
It's maddening. And not only that, but the game randomizes the obstacles with each attempt, while never presenting you with a task you aren't certain that you would have, could have completed. When Super Hexagon wins (and it will, again and again), it feels like it's actually outsmarted you.
One button press, and it's back again. Five seconds to a fail state, maybe fifteen next time. Again. Again. Again.
When I finally cleared the first stage by surviving for 60 seconds, I felt like I had just hacked the Gibson; I could see the code and I would bend Super Hexagon to my will. And then I started on the next difficulty mode and only lasted 16 seconds.
Again. Again. Again.