If the pulsing spin cycle and morphing neon palette of Super Hexagon is communicating something via hypnotic suggestion, it’s nothing particularly reassuring. Don’t look for tenderness here. There’s only one-more-go fiendishness on offer. And an infectious chiptune soundtrack by Chipzel to keep you from chafing too raw against the hockey-stick-shaped learning curve.
You control a tiny arrow, sliding it along a fixed circular arc while varying arrays of lines glide – or, in the harder stages, careen – toward the hexagonal vortex at the centre of the screen. The aim is to slip through any available gaps to avoid collision. Your arrow rotates clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on which side of the touch-screen you press. Manage to survive for 60 seconds and you complete the stage but the tempo lurches into knuckle-chewing fast-forward, bonus round style.
The more second nature the pattern of thumb presses become – some hen-pecking staccato, others lingering on the screen a half-second or so – the more you begin to feel like a virtuosic sight-reading percussionist. The most memorable gauntlet involves a spiralling corkscrew that you can only negotiate by jamming your thumb against the screen for an extended beat. Then it’s straight into the next trick, and the next.
Super Hexagon weds zen-like design purity with the highest order of twitch-reflex athleticism. It revels in the ineffable dance of muscle memory, the act of shutting off your brain and trusting your thumbs to guide you improbably to safety. Forget about VVVVVV. This is Terry Cavanagh’s masterpiece.