Who needs festivals or rave parties when you have Hexagroove from Swedish developer Ichigoichie on Xbox? I say that a bit sarcastic as I really miss my typical summer festival life and having my rave parties till the sun comes up, but you know… life right? Hexagroove: Tactical DJ does a fine job in replicating that electronic music vibe though! I tend to play a lot of rhythm games and this one is far from your typical hectic rhythm game, so it was a breeze of fresh air for me to play something chill and even relaxing in many ways. My creative use of 15 different dance genres might suck but I did have a lot of fun playing a virtual DJ, let me tell you why!
What we liked!
- Good selection of music: As a big fan of electronic music I was regularly following the beat with my head while feeling totally engaged and in control as the DJ. It gives us a slight idea of how it must feel like being Charlotte de Witte or David Guetta and seeing the crowds reaction as the USB stick changes to a new song. 15 different dance genres, including my favorite techno beats, are included within the game. It is pretty neat to hear the changes you do from the selection of music instruments, I personally didn’t know any of the licensed songs but Mr. YT, missingsoul, Legowelt, CYLON, Runners Club 95, no. 9, Kristoffer Wallman, DISPOSABLE, Junya Nakano, and Yasuo Sato worked with developer Ichigoichie to bring this great soundtrack!
- Fun gameplay loop: Just as a real DJ you must keep the people dancing, keep those bass pumps going so the crowd goes wild on the flashy dancefloor. Instead of just plugging in a USB you actually have to control instruments, instruments that the crowd asks for will give you bonus points. Setting up a series of loops grants you short mini-games, one is very similar to Rock Band the other requires you to control a view-cone and keep it on the fast-moving track. Overall, getting your timing right and selecting the required instrument is what will give you the highest points but you can take it slow and just forget about all the high scores… Honestly, this was my approach as I really wanted to enjoy the music and get into the beat flows myself.
- Maybe a little too simple visually? It ain’t bad but if you ever been to a dance club or rave party you know how crazy things can get with lighting. The game does a good job recreating some venues but it remains a little cheap for some reason. It is impressive to see the geometrically shaped crowd jump up and down though, it gets the blood flowing!
What we disliked
- More guidance is really required: Oof.. it took me some time to really understand what the hell was happening on my screen and how I could earn better scores. There is a complete lack of handholding here, something that is direly needed for this game. I am pretty sure that many gamers will simply quit the game annoyed and frustrated or won’t buy it after playing the free trial because they don’t get what they are supposed to do. I am puzzled that the developer didn’t do more effort in tutorials or ways of explaining gameplay mechanics. At one point I just gave up trying to understand why I wasn’t getting better ratings, I always ended up getting a B or even lower on some scoring elements.. scoring is split up in Freshness, Flow, Drama, Rhythm, Control, and One-Shot. I know that remembering what instruments types you already played are important for Freshness but it beats the hell out of my how I could improve the other scoring elements or how you could get style points with DJ tricks…
At its core Hexagroove is a really fun to play game if you’re into music games, it just misses enough guidance to truly understand what you need to do. It didn’t scare me away as I liked the good selection of music and I enjoyed the things I did understand. It has a free trial on Xbox, so be sure to check it out yourself!