Genre-mash ups work when both sides of a game’s dual identity have something to learn from another; when they intersect in fascinating ways. The progression trees of Rogue Legacy soften the impact of its roguelike perma-deaths, for instance, while the firstperson gunplay of Borderlands literally offers a new perspective on the series’ RPG structure. Hexodius, meanwhile, bolts a twin-stick shooter onto a RPG-ish, dungeon-crawler map screen, as you journey through rooms in search of keys and loot and that will help you progress to next layer of the ‘dungeon’. We’re just not sure what, precisely, has been gained.
It kills the pacing, for a start. Hexodius’ dungeon sections aren’t involved enough to offer interesting choices or exploration, but last just long enough to qualify as clunky menu screens. Customising your ship before battle lets you opt to play defensively, aggressively, or with trickier powers, but an enemy roster that fails to come up with any tricks of its own makes this another unnecessary layer of padding around what’s supposed to be taut, immediate style of game. Naturally, and in keeping with the spirit of these other ideas, Hexodius requires players to endure its tedious story before unlocking arcade mode.
Shooting itself is perfectly adequate, if unexceptional. Enemies emerge from clearly delineated spawn points, and the game is most interesting when it provides objectives that stop you from camping them. The package is rounded off with bland art and music, which makes you wish this twin-stick shooter had lavished more care on the basics before daring to experiment with structure.
Hexodius is out now on Steam.