I'd bet you "soothing" is a word you don't often find in videogame reviews, so allow me the pleasure of being your first. Hexic HD is the most soothing and relaxing videogame experience one can currently find on Xbox Live Arcade. This was the kind of game that Microsoft had in mind when they kept touting "casual games for casual gamers." The question thus becomes are we cool enough for casual games?
Right off the bat the soundtrack grabbed my attention, and I must give credit to the developers for crafting such a bubbly X-Files-esque sound that hums along in the background. Even running the cursor down the menu options creates a soothing (see there's that word again) soundscape.
Once I opened my eyes and dug into Hexic HD (which came free with my Premium Xbox 360) I found three modes: Survival, Timed, and Marathon but not a lot of variation. As the latest in the "connect three of the same colored objects" genre, I guess there's not a lot you can do with the gameplay. However, at times I expected a little more from Tetris-godfather Alexey Pajitnov.
What I can't fault him for is the way the game plays exactly as advertised, and better in some ways. I can't think of any other puzzle game with such great little touches. Such as how if get stuck a piece will begin to glow giving you a quiet clue as to what to do next. Maybe that's the problem: at low levels Hexic HD practically plays itself.
I would spin a piece into place and as new pieces tumbled down into the playing field they would create combos. Often you end up waiting a few seconds as new pieces create their own combos (you get points for these). This isn't to say that there isn't advanced game play to be found in this puzzler. Surrounding a piece with like-colored pieces to create flowers which bloom into a starflower can be maddening for new players.
Oddly enough despite the big focus on the LIVE aspect of other Arcade titles there is no multiplayer mode to be found. It would seem like a great fit too, and certainly no one would say that puzzle games don't make good multiplayer games. Heck even Nintendo has wowed even this cynic with their upcoming Nintendo DS Tetris title.
This is definitely not a game that will get you pumped up and going, but that's not really what it's met for. What got my blood boiling was the seemingly random nature of the game and how it affects bomb-pieces. I often felt like I was put into situations with no way out, which isn't something I ever remember Tetris doing to me. It's for this reason, and the strong competition brought on by other Xbox Live Arcade puzzle games that I wouldn't recommend this to anyone I know.