HIX: Puzzle Islands is a surprising game. It sets out to create a puzzle experience that’s fun, addictive, and tricky enough for adults but easy enough for kids. It’s a balance that’s not easy to pull off, but HIX manages to do it with style. It easily earns its E rating, as this is a title that can be enjoyed by everyone.
The light-hearted story involves an angel-like man named Hix who has a fight with his brother, Dix – essentially, he forgot to invite him fishing. His brother, who sports a red outfit reminiscent of a Halloween devil costume, doesn’t like being left out. He embarks on a rampage across the world, mixing up the paths between cities along the way. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to follow Dix from island to island to fix his mess.
It’s all very innocent and cute, presented in a cartoony way. The colors are vibrant and pop off the screen. Even little details made me smile, like the tiny people in cars and other modes of transport travelling along the roads as you put them back together. The word “charming” quickly came to mind as I played.
Each level is a cross between a jigsaw and a sliding puzzle, using hexagon-shaped pieces that need to be swapped to connect the roads between cities. You can swap any two pieces, although you’re given a couple of freebies to start with to get you going. This simple concept works very well, creating a puzzle that’s easy to master yet gets trickier and more complicated as you progress, adding more cities in later levels.
There are loads of puzzles to solve – 180 in fact. These are spread across six large island worlds, with each locked until you make your way through the previous one. I appreciate that you can choose your own path through each world, meaning you don’t need to complete all 30 levels in order to move ahead. Yet, if you’re a completionist, there’s plenty to keep you going.
Another element I love about this game is the fact that it has full touchscreen control. Given its mobile origins, it’s not a complete surprise, though I’ve played other ports that lack this ability. I’m pleased to say this is one port that transitions well and seems justified to exist on the Switch.
The music is great, too. It sits neatly in the background as an upbeat yet relaxing backdrop to each puzzle. There’s something simply endearing about the tunes, I can’t put my finger on it, but it complements the cute and cartoony aesthetics to create quite a joyful experience.
I also appreciate the hints available if you get stuck. The puzzles can be tricky when there are multiple cities to connect, but a hint from Hix will highlight two blocks to move. It keeps the frustration to a minimum and helps strike that balance between relaxing and challenging. It also makes it accessible for a younger crowd while still keeping it relevant to an older audience.
It’s hard for me to fault this game, as I enjoyed playing it so much. My only suggestions would be to include an “undo” button in case of mistakes. You could also add further longevity to the game by including some kind of star rating or time-based approach to levels, although this could detract from the relaxing nature of the title.
Overall, HIX: Puzzle Islands is a super-fun game with relaxing puzzles set in a cute and well-designed world. It strikes the perfect balance between tricky and satisfying and is one I found myself coming back to again and again.