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Best iPhone games: Super Hexagon

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Mobile games are fun, simple and accessible, but that doesn't mean they are lightweight or insignificant. They have the ability to bend time and make commutes bearable; they transform idle moments into thrilling distractions. In a new series, CVG celebrates the most impressive examples of this exciting new wave of games.

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Best iPhone games: Super Hexagon

Also available on
iPad

A black hole sits at the centre of Super Hexagon, relentlessly sucking in a deadly procession of throbbing neon polygons. It's a powerful tractor beam which extends beyond the confines of your iOS device - Terry Cavanagh's pulsing, sadistic twitch opus pulls the player into its unforgiving world with brutal efficiency, making spare time dissolve into its void too.

You are a tiny triangle, only able to circle left or right around the titular Hexagon's circumference. By tapping or holding down on each side of the screen, your impossible task is to slip through the gaps in the enclosing walls for as long as possible. Absolute concentration is required as increasingly elaborate patterns close in, but they're not entirely random. Creator Cavanagh throws different sets of shapes at your craft at different times, though they are jumbled and never quite the same.

First encounters are limited to mere seconds, and surviving beyond that feels superhuman. Persevere, and your senses seem to sharpen with every attempt. Super Hexagon's unholy patterns start to become familiar (but not predictable), and time landmarks are broken. Through repetition, you build an almost unconscious sense of the patterns to come. Survival beyond a minute, once impossible, becomes attainable - you're on a high.

Move onto the harder modes and that heady sense of achievement disappears into the void, too. Switch from the default Hexagon mode to Hexagoner and then Hexangonest (Hard, Harder and Hardest respectively) and you feel that initial, impossible trepidation again. The pace is faster and the incoming geometry is tighter. Even more so than before, concentration and calm control are the skills required for survival. Panic and it's game over, Super Hexagon's default state. Extra, even more challenging 'Hyper' modes can be unlocked too, and a glance at the Game Centre leaderboards is genuinely disheartening. A masochistic sojourn in the harder modes does have some benefit, though - returning to Hexagon mode almost feels sedate by comparison.

Close Close

The game's 'camera' throbs in time with Chipzel's soundtrack, a brutal brand of electronica in keeping with the game's stiff difficulty. It is trance music in the truest sense of the word and a vital, hypnotic part of Super Hexagon's absorbing neon nightmare. As it thumps, roars and squeals in perfect concert with the enclosing shapes, it adds to the experience immeasurably.

With his latest release, Terry Cavanagh has torn open a black hole, gleefully pulling its players' time and obsessive, undivided attention into it. Super Hexagon is a landmark twitch action game on iOS.

Super Hexagon is £0.69 on the App Store. Download it here.

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