“Hexopods” is an arcade twin stick shooter where four players can shoot it out in vector style arenas with innovative mechanics. Each player takes one of four ships (composed of a hull and a cockpit to shoot at) with unique skills mapped to the controller, giving each a different playstyle for any particular preferences.
Despite how unique they are from each ship shares two abilities: a frontal shield and slow shots. The frontal shield will reflect any shots and increase their damage against the opponents, though it only lasts for a short period of time and makes you (and the shield) stationary so you’ll need to use it wisely.
With the slow shots you can, as the name suggests, slow down your bullets. This may seem counter intuitive, but you can group several shots and release them when the target is in range, barraging them with your own bullet hell. This is one of those games that you need to learn how to play but there is an in-depth tutorial mode for basic and advance controls as well as lessons for each ship, helping you master “Hexopods”.
The key selling point to “Hexopods” is the modular gameplay found under the settings. There are the basic settings for lives and timer (which turns the match into sudden death) and three special ones. The Hexshield only protects you from standard projectiles, leaving you vulnerable to zone of effect and special skills. While the sides will wear out and dissipate from damage, you can rotate it and use what little protection is left.
Power-Ups are, instead of pick ups, zones you shoot through in a particular sequence. Shooting them in certain orders will grant you different Power-Ups such as bounce, large, and explosive. Anyone can get a Power-Up and choose the one they want, adding a bit of strategy to it. And finally, Zone is a sort of King of the Hill area that moves around the arena. It can be set to enable Hexshields, All Power-Ups (yes, all of them at once), or win the game. You can have any combination, though having “Win” enabled with any other setting will be pointless since the match will always end.
All this leads into two arena modes. The main attraction is the human arena where up to four players can either set teams or go into it in a deathmatch style kind of way. If you can’t find anyone else you’ll have to make do with the versus computer duel arena. This mode is alright for practice, but it only offers one on one versus and the AI is just out for blood. In other words, there is no hectic gameplay or fight for the Zone. Since the AI versus doesn’t let you have a full arena of opponents you would have more fun with people.
The developer went with a classy arcade presentation when designing “Hexopods”. The visuals mimic arcade vector graphics, with some modern particle effects added. There are slow motion, trail, and freeze-on-death effects that can be toggled on for dramatic effects or off for fast and/or better performance.
There is also a sight setting that’s suppose to help with aim, though the “sights” is a pixel that’s hard to see on the screen even with bullets everywhere. As for the audio portion of the presentation, it has some cool arena music and retro sound effects, all fitting nicely into an arcade experience.
Being a twin-stick shooter, it is recommended to play on a gamepad. You could play with the mouse and keyboard but with that setup your fingers will spread over both skill and movement keys, making you a sitting duck. Essentially, everyone will need a controller for best results.
The usual tagline for a game like this is “easy to learn but difficult to master,” but “Hexopods” goes by “difficult to play impossible to master.” I wouldn’t say impossible to master. However, between the modular nature of the game and the classes of ships with their distinct skills, I can conclude that it can be difficult to accomplish. It’s a fun, frantic, fast-paced game well worth a weekend to blow on with friends (or family).
In the matter of fact this is a fun game, with the weakest part about all of this would be the part that concerns the “AI Versus duel” mode. Why? Because it merely pits you against one computer, voiding you from a full experience of what you would expect from a full arena. So overall, if you can rope some people in for an updated arcade experience, then “Hexopod” is worthy of a shot.
+ Twin Stick Shooter inspired by old-school arcade games
+ Innovating uses of King of the Hill and Power-Ups for a different experience
+ In-depth tutorial mode to help learn and master the game
+ Modular gameplay and a host of ships with different skills for each vessel
– AI Versus is limited to one vs. one.
– Sights is only a pixel bit and isn’t very efficient.
Replay value: 3.5/5
”Hexopods” is one of those games that’s best played together with friends. So if you can get at least three other people to play in one room, then you’ll have a good time slaying them in the arena. Furthermore, with the modular settings and innovating modes that the game offers, it’ll be a hex of a time.
Developer: Florent Vieillescazes
Resolution: 1680 x 1050
Release date: 2017-11-17
Spent time: 2+ hours
Average grade internationally: N/A as of writing. Gamerankings.com
PEGI/ESRB age rating: PEGI7+/Everyone
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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