Well my brain feels broken.

Puzzle games have a funny way of doing that, especially the one-solution, mathy kind of puzzle games. Physics puzzlers or block-droppers, you can kind of just swing years of built-up game logic at the problem until something breaks and lets you through. But something that's just raw numbers, it's almost like a goddamned math riddle, and yet somehow fun?

I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's actually describe the game. Hexologic is, in a word, sudoku. In two words, it's hexagon sudoku. In an entire sentence, it's like sudoku but with different numbers needing to add up in different directions, using the hexagonal nature of its uniquely shaped boards to throw a different set of twists and turns at you each time.

And that's a pretty solid little premise. It's a very simple, straight-up abstract one. There's no story, no "this represents you doing an epic battle against a dragon who ate your dog" stuff here, it's just a straight-up puzzler. Really, you could do the game on paper, let alone on the variety of platforms it's available on.

So, what are the actual mechanics you're working with? Well, if you look at these screenshots, you'll see a board with all of these numbers sticking off the ends. Your goal is simple; every invisible line leading up to a number arrow, should add up to that number, and every block should have something filled in on it. You get a set of three numbers to work with, making the math tricky in the moment but able to be held in your head more effectively.

The result is that once you understand the pieces at play, helped along by a tutorial and the first few super-basic stages, the whole structure feels very simple and easily grasped...Right up until you load up some complicated pattern that looks like the map of some old D&D campaign's hexcrawl, with ten different numbers sticking off the ends, and are left just trying to figure out where to even begin.

But, I mean, in a good way.

From a reviewer's perspective, this is kind of a tricky game to look at. It's so boiled down to its core elements, so abstract in actual play that it's hard to connect the art or music into the gameplay side of my review in any meaningful way.

Which is a shame, because these are both really well done pieces. The art is simple, but with a crisp colorscheme that gives the game a lot of charm, and its hint of music has a lovely soothing feel that really gets you into the zone to just chew through these little puzzles one after the other.

The art is also cleverly used to give the game more of a feeling of progression. Your stage selection menu starts at the bottom of a pool, and with each puzzle you clear, you ascend higher and higher, climbing out of the water, past the falls that fill that pool you were in, and on and on. Tantalizing hints of new graphics keep making you feel like you're not just running up a list, but really moving forward. In a game built on little nuggets of cleverness, it might be the best trick the game pulls.

And the sound design plays into it, too. Different parts of the menu get subtly different instrumentation around the same core tune, which shifts as you go up or down the menu, alongside the art. The whole thing gives each part of the game its own distinct feel, despite using so few pieces to get there.

All of this combines with modest tweaks to the core formula as you go to make the whole thing not just feel alive, but keep steadily interesting, never settling into a rhythm for too long. Just as soon as you've really mastered a version of the hex map, you get given a new trick to figure out, a new bit of art to enjoy, and a new tone to the music, all to keep you invested.

The end result is one of those cases where a game just took a simple concept, and executed on it really, really well. Hexologic is a small game, but it's a really good one, and at its budget price across a lot of platforms, it's an easy recommendation. Get it.