Spring Thing: The Adventures of a Hexagon!

Spring Thing, the other annual interactive fiction competition, is here; ten games have been entered, and I’ll be reviewing them. Spoilers are likely.

First up is The Adventures of a Hexagon!, by Tyler Zahnke.

This is a sort of a Flatland story, insofar as it is about geometric shapes that are also people. The difference here is that Flatland is an extended parable crafted to support a specific point; Hexagon is… I’m not sure what the point of Hexagon is.

It’s a hyperlink piece entirely made up of basic HTML; any single playthrough will be very short. At times it seems as though it’s trying to talk about certain kinds of patterns in geometry, except that the story makes the explanation less clear. One section talks about a gang of polygons that attacks another group of polygons, in terms of wall-captures and pool-captures – but what those terms actually mean is never explained. The initial framing is that you’ve escaped a geometry textbook into the human-scale world, but this idea seems to get abandoned, because everything after that takes place in an anthropomorphic-geometry world.

At other times, it’s just random stuff happening with geometrical figures… well, usually doing violence to other geometrical figures, for reasons unclear. There’s a lot of death. And there’s no real gameplay component: there’s no clear goal, no way to judge the likely results of your actions, except by exhausting options. That’d be less of a problem if the game offered anything else, but I can’t really see what that’s supposed to be.

If I were to go into full-on overreading mode, I’d say that the story’s moral is that it’s hugely dangerous to mix with people unlike yourself, and you should do all you can to foster a community of safely similar people. As a hexagon, you’re threatened by both polyhedra and lines; hanging out with different polygons won’t protect you; the only way to win is to stick with other hexagons. That’d be really freaking depressing if I thought that the author really intended it.

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