It’s been 72 hours or so since I left the house. Stomach pains have kept me pinned in bed. Too sick to work, too sick to cook, and worst of all, too sick to play Rocket League. Boredom never cease.
I found some respite. Here’s a game that was being passed around Reddit. Hex FRVR.
Is this a good game?
That’s the question I’ve been trying to answer. For the uninitiated, Hex FRVR is a game that gives you three pieces at a time to drop onto a hexagonal board. Fill up a complete line or diagonal and those pieces disappear from the board (think Tetris). Color is irrelevant.
The game ends when you can no longer place one of your pieces. Naturally you play for high score.
As a score-tracking, easy to learn web puzzle game, it draws a natural analog to 2048. 2048 was a wonderful journey in discovery. As you played, you refined your mental algorithm. If you reached 2048’s endgame, you discovered an unavoidable truth: that the fun came from refining your mental algorithm, but the actual execution was rather tedious. Once you’ve made an 8192 block or a 16384 block, there’s little reason to ever come back. Tetris has had me returning for decades, but 2048 was fairly disposable as a source of entertainment.
How deep is Hex FRVR?
The fact that I am writing this section within 24 hours of discovering the game is perhaps a bit damning.
When I first played Hex FRVR, my high scores all hit the 10k – 20k range.
“It feels a bit random. I just kind of play for a while and then it’s over”, I told my girlfriend, who seemed to agree while also not really caring.
If you want to figure out the game on your own, I would stop reading here.
My initial strategy? ‘Put the pieces where they fit most naturally’. This had some aesthetic appeal, but it wasn’t really yielding great results. I knew from the developer’s post that the unofficial high score was somewhere around 100,000, so I clearly had improvements to be made.
Second approach: ‘try to set up combos’. Hex FRVR has some built-in system that gives your more points if you clear multiple lines at once. Unfortunately, it doesn’t reward you all that much. It’s rarely worth filling up the board for one big payoff. In fact, my “winning” strategy went in the complete opposite direction…
How to win:
Current approach: ‘keep the board as clear as possible’.
At the end of the day, Hex FRVR comes down to a rate problem. Every move, you drop about 4 hexes onto the board. That means, on average, you need to be clearing about 4 hexes per move to stay alive. Secondly, since the pieces can’t be rotated, you afford yourself the greatest freedom of movement if you just keep the board very open. There are far more pieces in Hex FRVR than Tetris, so you can’t let the board fill and hope for the “right” piece to come along. The long piece in Tetris was 1 of 7, but a single “L” type piece equivalent in Hex FRVR has 6 non-rotateable orientations.
There are some tricks to keeping the board clear, but eventually you’ll come to the simple conclusion: Hex FRVR does not get more difficult over time.
Behold, a game at 33k.
And a game at 48k.
As long as I stay the course, there’s really nothing to keep me from hitting 100k.
The developer mentioned creating a mode for the “10% of people for whom Hex FRVR is too easy”, so I may check in again if/when that happens. I’ll passively try and think of some ways. Currently my only idea is to steal Hexic’s bomb counter mechanic, which places a bomb on a hex that explodes if you don’t clear that hex within a certain number of moves. It would certainly place some new constraints on the gameplay.
As is, Hex FRVR gave me several hours of peaceful entertainment for the low cost of $0. I don’t expect to come back to it for long, but if you’re looking for a pleasant diversion, look no further.
(fun tip: the music is charming for a couple minutes, but grating after that. I replaced it with Spotify’s “Peaceful Piano” playlist)