Feel the beat, slide in loops and start a nice rave. All in a day's work!
Becoming a DJ: it might be a dream for many who love mixing music together, but only a select few to get experience the dream for real. Now, everyone can feel the joy of sliding the loops into place with Hexagroove: Tactical DJ, which is a rather refreshing game that recently released on Nintendo Switch. Players use their DJ skills to seamlessly create songs and get the crowd pumping. From how weird it looks on the outside, the game got me invested all the way to the end.
Hexagroove: Tactical DJ sees you managing a circle with various loops within it. Each loop, representing an instrument, needs to be changed at specific points throughout your session. You will do this by selecting them, changing a loop with a face button, and timing the transition at just the right moment. Along the way, players will be introduced to new instruments and get thrown off by sudden changes. The public constantly wants to see shifts in the songs, and will make their displeasure known if you don't oblige. Luckily, you are free to throw in the loops you want. The only thing required of you is maintaining the timing and ensuring that everything flows nicely.
In the beginning, you will find that Hexagroove tries to teach you the ropes. Next to looping instruments, there are colors on the field you will need to pay attention to. If a loop is currently blue, you are doing the best job possible. In those empty moments, a ball will be thrown into the crowd that you will try to keep up high for extra points. That being said, eventually the loops will turn green, forcing you to take action and listening in for when it’s time to switch. This might not come naturally at first, but believe me, it is well worth learning all the way through.
The game sometimes breaks off, and forces you to change all your loops for one big shocker. At that moment, minigames will be offered where you earn perfect blue ratings. These minigames basically act like transitions to the next part of a song, so nailing them really helps. The first minigame is formatted like a typical rhythm game, where you have to press buttons in time with the music. The other sees you traveling across a line, moving the stick to stay on point with the directions. Neither of these is easy, particularly on higher difficulty settings, and may result in a frustrating moment or two.
Despite the various mechanics that you need to keep in mind, I think Hexagroove presents an incredibly satisfying gameplay loop. I felt happy when placing a loop correctly, nailing a minigame or getting the crowd pumped. Every small step requires precision and sees you increasing the end score in a big way. With various musical styles and over 420 musical loops, there was a feeling of excitement every time I booted up a new set. In addition, I found myself practicing with the various styles before doing a proper run, allowing me to create a track I found enjoyable myself. You will need to put in the time to learn Hexagroove's inner workings, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
The only problem with Hexagroove: Tactical DJ's campaign mode is that it’s rather short. With only a number of hours on the counter, I had played at every venue on offer. In the end, the game is highly replayable, but you will quickly go through all the places you can potentially visit. Luckily, the game offers a multiplayer mode where you can work together and create music, as well as a Freestyle option where you can do whatever you want.
Hexagroove: Tactical DJ may take just a little time to explore, but I found it super engaging. This music game requires you to think about every decision you make, and teaches you how you can play the virtual crowd. There are plenty of musical loops and timing elements to keep you replaying levels and going wild in Freestyle. The minigames may prove a little too demanding at points, but that is only a slight niggle in an otherwise superb journey throughout this musical experience. Overall, Hexagroove is a nice surprise through and through.