Hextech Mayhem review: a musical game filled with freedom
Rhythm games consist of following a set of strict patterns, but Hextech Chaos understands how much fun breaking the rules can be.
Hextech Chaos: One League of Legends Story is one of Riot Forge’s first two initiatives – games designed by independent studios located inside the League of Legends universe. Unlike the long, story-laden RPG Ruined King: A League of Legends Story (whose surprise came out the same day), Hextech Chaos is a short and relatively simple rhythm game. But there is depth beneath the surface. Hextech Chaos doesn’t just reward players who follow its instructions wisely. The real meat of Hextech Chaos, and what makes it special is the improvisation it inspires.
Through over 30 levels and three boss fights, I control Ziggs – a fluffy explosives expert – in a side-scrolling, side-scrolling platform game from left to right. But instead of just jumping to avoid obstacles, Hextech Chaos is also a musical game. There are visible prompts scattered throughout each level, and I have to press the corresponding button in time with the beat. The green prompts tell me where I should time Ziggs ‘jumps, the white drop prompts tell me to send him back to the ground immediately, and the bomb prompts tell me to throw one of Ziggs’ unlimited supplies of bombs. It’s like playing a Mario game where you have to carefully jump to the beat.
When you play well Hextech ChaosThe variety of sound effects blend into the music to create perfect harmony. The buildings in the background dance in sync with the music, and a soft guitar fades as I hit several prompts in a row without missing. At its best, it’s impossible for me not to nod to the beat of the music, functioning like a sort of auto-metronome to keep me in the groove.
But at the same time Hextech Chaos is fun, cute and groovy when I just follow the instructions it don’t punish me for getting out of script. Each mission has several sections that encourage me to play music the way I hear it, pressing buttons to send Ziggs flying without ruining my combo. Combined with the visible prompts, these empty spaces allow me to enhance the music with my own creativity. There are also invisible prompts during this section, and if they are well synchronized, they allow me to pick up collectibles – but they are in no way necessary for touching.
These invisible prompts are hidden within the beats of the music and take me on new paths if I can hit them. In the pauses between the visible prompts, a metal box on the ground might suggest that I’m jumping with the music, while a finicky vent means I should slam Ziggs into the ground rather than drop it naturally. These clues are hard to see at first, but they are so related to the music that I started noticing them after just a few levels.
Meanwhile, I’m ramping up something called Mayhem – a stat that tracks the number of guards, boxes, vents, walls, and balloons I’ve destroyed on my way to the finish line. Reaching 100% of visible prompts is a great way to get a good score, but good scores also require a high level of Mayhem, asking score hunters to experiment and find all invisible prompts.
As someone who doesn’t often play music or rhythm games, my improvisation and effort to discover invisible notes tended to get me in trouble. But having the freedom to experiment and play alongside the music has helped me get more in tune with the songs and improve myself as a player. It’s easy to imagine fans who really get involved in Hextech Chaos creating incredible routes through each level – even beyond invisible inflections – enhancing the music with their own explosive beat, then realigning in time for the next prompt. For those of us who can’t do it on our own, completing the game unlocks a mode that shows a path to 100% Mayhem, giving a lot more guidance by filling in the blanks with visible prompts.
Even if Hextech Chaos holds fast to its own merits, it also blames League of Legends universe. Hextech Chaos follows Ziggs, an explosives expert determined to detonate the glamorous town of Piltover, with scientist Heimerdinger acting as his foil. League Players like me already know this pair deeply, but the cutscenes and pre-mission dialogue do a pretty good job of selling these characters to the uninitiated – they’re like Cogsworth and Light of The beauty and the Beast, if Lumière had a penchant for pyromancy instead of restaurant entertainment.
In all of Riot’s games, the focus is on groups of these heroes acting in dynamic multiplayer modes, whether as chess pieces, cards, or regular controllable champions. Corn Hextech Chaos is hyper-focused on one place in the universe and one relationship, offering a whole new perspective. There aren’t a lot of lore or storylines, but the big, familiar personalities of Ziggs and Heimer shine through the dialogue, the increasingly ridiculous mechs they both create, and the explosions all around. them, at the height of “League of Legends history”Subtitle satisfactorily for longtime fans.
Hextech Chaos that’s a lot of things in a small package: it’s a musical game with an excellent soundtrack, a League of Legends a game that doesn’t punish unsuspecting players and a rhythm game that lets you color outside the lines to find new ways forward. But it’s that last part, the freedom to jump at your own pace just in time to get back on line, that will keep it in my memory.
Rarely does a single feature add both accessibility and depth, but Hextech Chaos stands out as a unique title capable of generating creativity on what otherwise appears to be a linear path.
Hextech Mayhem: A League of Legends Story released on November 16 for Nintendo Switch and Windows PC. The game has been reviewed through the Epic Games Store using a press account provided by Epic Games and on Switch using a pre-release download code provided by Riot Games. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find more information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.