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'Pivvot' only takes seconds to play, but hours to master

'Pivvot' only takes seconds to play, but hours to master


A punishing puzzler

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With its simple visuals, thumping soundtrack, and punishing difficulty, it's hard to play Pivvot without thinking of Super Hexagon. Luckily, it's not a simple clone — Pivvot has Super Hexagon's style, but a feel that's all its own.

It's all about avoiding things. You control a small circle speeding along a twisted, turning pathway littered with different kinds of obstacles, and you only have to touch them once to end your game. To get out of the way, you rotate left and right by touching either side of the screen. Those are the only controls you'll need, but don't mistake Pivvot's simplicity for a lack of challenge. Obstacles come quickly and in random formations and each type requires a different technique to get around. And since they come at you so fast, staying alive requires quick thinking and reflexes. You have to get in the zone — headphones in, eyes unblinking, mind focused.

Headphones in, eyes unblinking, mind focused

It's a lot like the feeling you get paying Super Hexagon, and those similarities aren't an accident. "I think Super Hexagon is impeccably designed and it just gave me so much inspiration," says Pivvot creator Whitaker Trebella. Early on in development, Trebella reached out to Super Hexagon developer Terry Cavanagh and the two even worked together to make some small tweaks to Pivvot to avoid too many similarities. "The control scheme and avoidance in Pivvot are similar to Super Hexagon," says Trebella, "but I tried to branch out and come up with as many original aspects as possible. If you really compare the two, they are pretty drastically different in a lot of ways."

Pivvot features an endless mode that's extremely challenging, but there's also a more approachable "voyage" mode that helps you learn the ropes without having to start over every five seconds. It's essentially an extended tutorial that slowly introduces you to all of the different kinds of obstacles in the game. When you die, you don't start over from scratch, but instead pick up from the last checkpoint you reached. Once you're done with that, you can hop into the endless mode to try to stay alive for as long as possible. More challenging game modes unlock depending on how well you do, including the terrifying "berserk" mode. "I mainly wanted to make sure there were options for all types of players," says Trebella. "While the more casual players will start with voyage, learning along the way, more advanced gamers will be able to get a thrill by being thrown into the mix immediately."

"They are pretty drastically different in a lot of ways."

The comparisons are unavoidable, but the similarities to Super Hexagon are really only on the surface. You're still avoiding things, but the moment-to-moment action in Pivvot, which has you constantly swinging back and forth frantically to avoid death, is very different. And its more gradual difficulty level means that it's more approachable for those players who felt alienated by Super Hexagon's often overwhelming challenge. But there is one thing the two games definitely have in common: the ability to completely absorb yourself in the pursuit of a high score. You might not be able to stay alive much longer than a minute, but those minutes quickly add up to hours of bleary eyed gameplay.

Pivvot is out now on iOS, with an Android version expected in the next few weeks.