Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
There are moments playing Super Hexagon when I feel like I’ve attained a higher state of consciousness, lost amid a euphoric wave of color and sound. Then there are moments when I want to smash my iPhone against a wall and unleash a string of four-letter expletives that would shame a drunken Juggalo. That kind of love-hate polarity is at the heart of Super Hexagon, a game in which merciless difficulty is counterbalanced by addictive screen-tapping vibes.
With barebones visuals and controls, Super Hexagon is also an exercise in minimalism. You are a tiny arrow stuck in the middle of a colorful world of swirling polygons. A quick tap to the left rotates you counter-clockwise, while a tap to the right rotates you clockwise. Your goal is to avoid an endless onslaught of lines which spiral in towards you from all angles. Each stage lasts a scant fifteen seconds, yet those seconds can feel like an eternity as the cycle of failure and completion begins and ends almost as quick as you can tap the screen. At first, even hitting five seconds seems impossible.
When Super Hexagon is at its best you’ll fall into an almost zen-like trance of colors and catchy beats (with a soundtrack created by Irish chiptune musician Chipzel). At its worse, it’s an exercise in maddening frustration. In that sense, it’s a game that rewards patience and skill, walking players along a swirling hexagonal line between love and hate.