Hexagroove: Tactical DJ Review – DJ Kitchen Sink

Platforms:

Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Xbox One, Windows PC, Steam

Game Name:

Hexagroove: Tactical DJ

Publisher(s):

Ichigoichie

Developer(s):

Ichigoichie

Genre(s):

Action, Simulation, Strategy

Release Date:

October 27th, 2020

ESRB Rating:

E For Everyone

Hexagroove: Tactical DJ by Ichigoichie

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you threw a bunch of games in a blender and sold the results? Hexagroove: Tactical DJ feels like that.

It takes the rhythm gameplay of games like Amplitude and Superbeat: XONIC and gives it an element of, as the title suggests, tactics.

Sound a bit confusing? Wait ’til you try to play it.

Cure for the Itch

Hexagroove casts you as a DJ trying to keep the party hopping at a local venue. You do this by turning your audio loops on and off in tune to the rhythm of the song, advancing when you’ve kept things energetic enough to rack up enough “Euphoria.”

So clearly the idea is to get your loops going full blast for more Euphoria, right? Not so fast! As any good musician will tell you, blasting on all cylinders isn’t all that interesting. The audience knows what it wants, and it wants creativity and drama just as much as it wants thumping beats.

This is where the “tactical” aspect of the game’s title comes into play. You generate more points by turning tracks off as the audience gets tired of them, and while it might make the song go longer, it means more opportunities to keep your score soaring.

On top of that, each song is interspersed with mini-games you use to up your score as well. Sometimes you hit one button to the rhythm, others you have to hit a sequence of notes or steer your icon along a track like Amplitude or Superbeat.

Five Deadly Fingers

Hexagroove is nothing if not an impressive package. The amount of gameplay variety and the song selection alone are quite impressive. Add in a number of multiplayer modes, a full remix and customization mode, and some stunning visuals, and this game is easily a slam dunk, right? Well…not quite.

For everything Hexagroove does really well, it makes a few cardinal sins that are impossible to ignore. First of all, the game does a poor job of explaining its systems to you. The “How to play” section of the main menu is several pages of jargon-filled text with very few examples, many of which simply repeat as you play the intro levels. While the game does introduce new gameplay elements at a gradual pace, it starts off on a bit of a sour note.

Another problem is that the aforementioned minigames get repetitive very quickly. They feel especially barebones in comparison to the meat of the game; it almost feels like the developer wasn’t confident enough in their own original concept for it to stand on its own.

Their difficulty is also disproportionate to the rest of the game. Even on Easy mode, they have a tendency to throw some incredibly fast rhythms at you regardless of the rhythm of the song itself. It’s jarring at best and frustrating at worse.

Finally, perhaps most importantly, something about Hexagroove feels…flat. For a game where “Drama” is a statistic, the payoff for playing well feels very subdued and anticlimactic. Rhythm games are at their best when they’re big, loud and flashy, and make you feel like a superstar in your own living room. Hexagroove doesn’t quite nail that, and it only highlights its other issues.

There’s a lot to love about this game, and it has some phenomenal production values for an indie release. However, between its glaring issues and $30 price tag, there are better music rhythm games out there.

Hexagroove: Tactical DJ is available via the Nintendo Game Store, Microsoft Store, and Steam.

Watch the official trailer for Hexagroove: Tactical DJ below:

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