>>Community Game Not So Brief
A mythical beast looms within the Community Games library: a development holy grail, the console RTS, done right. Philip Muwanga’s Hexy Trench is a real-time strategy game that costs less than three dollars, and trumps Halo Wars.
The game is played on a neon-colored hexagonal board that fits neatly on a single screen. Each player starts with a base, and must build out from there using randomly-generated trench pieces. The goal is to network multiple bases, gathering their resources to build up defenses. Each trench must connect with the last, adding a unique puzzle-game touch reminscent of Pipe Dream or Carcassonne.
Each trench piece can house a single unit, either a bunker, turret, or artillery. Bunkers are the offensive pieces, and continuously send out troops to attack enemy trenches and bases. Turrets are your defense, and target any troops who come close. Artillery is pricier, but allows you to take aim and soften up enemy entrenchments for an incoming assault.
The way the various units play off of each other is a simple rock/paper/scissors formula, but the magic is how fast-paced and chaotic each battle can be. Many RTS games involve a lot of waiting, whether it’s for units to finish building or resources to come in. In Hexy Trench, this is rarely an issue – units are built instantly, and the resources come in fast from the start. Normally, this fast pace would be the downfall of an RTS without a mouse and keyboard, but Hexy Trench succeeds through elegant presentation.
The look and style is reminiscent of Geometry Wars, with each team color-coded for easy spotting. With all the action right there on the screen, Hexy Trench eliminates the complicated navigation controls that plague most realtime strategy games. There’s still a bit of a learning curve, but the control scheme creates gameplay that moves as quickly as your mind can process it.
Hexy Trench offers the kind of experience that will get you jumping up and shouting, holding your head in shame, and grinning ear-to-ear all in a single match. Most Community Games wish they were brilliant enough to offer this as a local four-player experience, but Hexy doesn’t stop there. A campaign offers competitive AI battles in a variety of scenarios. The online mode lets you play with friends around the world. The game even allows you to create your own maps and gametypes and take them into local or online matches. Then there’s the cherry on top – as if to say, “I can do this with my hands tied behind my back,” the game even offers a completely unnecessary twin-stick shooter mode that’s better than most of what the Community Games library has to offer.
Hexy Trench truly knocks it out of the park. It’s impressive enough to be a polished community game with a slick presentation, but it’s also silently redefining a genre. To see it festering away, hidden in a sea of sub-par, amateur dreck is truly a sad affair. This is the kind of game we all hoped for when Microsoft started the Community Games initiative and it shouldn’t go unnoticed.