Getting into a new franchise can often be rather intimidating, especially when the only entry point to it is a complex MOBA, such as with League of Legends. Riot Games has been doing a lot recently to expand this franchise further, thus opening more opportunities to get invested, with recent entries like Netflix’s Arcane and the RPG, Ruined King: A League of Legends Story. While Ruined King didn’t live up to our standards on Switch, how will the other currently available League of Legends side game, Hextech Mayhem from Choice Provisions, review?
Right off the bat, if you’re coming to Hextech Mayhem for its story, you’ll want to look elsewhere. The basic plot places you in control of Hexplosives expert Ziggs as he embarks on a quest to build the greatest bomb ever! Opposing you on this quest is esteemed inventor Heimerdinger, whose no-nonsense mentality seeks to put an end to your fun. While the dichotomy between these two characters produces some rather hilarious interactions, things really don’t get more complicated than that.
Of course, in a rhythm platformer like Hextech Mayhem, story isn’t nearly as important as the gameplay, and it’s here where the game will succeed or fail. For the standard mode, you’ll either jump, stomp, or throw a bomb in time with the music and on-screen prompts as you automatically run through the stage. However, only the necessary prompts are shown. To truly maximize your score and collectible gathering, which is needed to unlock progression and different cosmetics for Ziggs, you’ll need to go off-script a bit and respond to some hidden prompts to create mayhem. While this does reward repetition and mastery of the stages, trying to do it too much or too early can really mess up your progress in a stage.
Thankfully, messing up isn’t too worrisome, unless you’re trying to grab all the collectibles. Upon getting hit by an obstacle, you’ll temporarily float in mid-air as you wait for the next series of prompts to appear. Hitting these prompts in time will immediately throw you back in the action. In theory, you could wait til the end of the stage, or at least until you’re past a particularly troublesome section, to respawn, but while you’re in this mode, you can’t collect anything. As unlocking the next stage in part relies on the collectibles though, it’s likely in your best interest to respawn as soon as possible.
Upon beating the full standard mode, you unlock the “Full Action” mode that shows the additional prompts, acting both as an extra challenge and incidentally as a tutorial for the normal versions of the stage. You’ll also unlock Impossible mode, which not only hides the prompts, but also fails you the first time you hit something. Each stage in this mode needs to be unlocked by mastering the Full Action version of that stage, thus making it both the ultimate challenge and a reward for your mastery. Both of these special modes count their completion percentage separately from each other and the main mode, so completionists will have one tough time getting to the end of the game here.
One big problem I had with Hextech Mayhem was that I found it a bit difficult to keep up with visually. I felt I could never quite get the timing of the prompts correct simply off of visuals alone. This is exacerbated greatly once you start throwing in all the explosions and mayhem, and it’s even worse in the boss stages. There were also too many times I died trying either to follow the path or simply respawn. It was exceptionally easy in the late game to mistime a single prompt by a fraction of a moment or respawn at just the wrong time, then wind up having to miss the next three or four seconds of the stage and its collectibles. In that regard it definitely feels like one of the more demanding rhythm games I’ve played, and not for the better.
Load times were also a bit longer than I would have expected. For some reason, the prompt to skip a cutscene appears during loading screens, though it appears to do nothing, so I don’t know why I’m being presented with that option. Lastly, while I generally like the music in Hextech Mayhem, there’s nothing that really stands out as being exceptional. Some of the themes feel overused, and thus the overall soundtrack felt like it melted together by the end of the experience.
Despite these qualms, I mostly enjoyed my time with Hextech Mayhem: A League of Legends Story. There are definite issues I have with it as a rhythm platformer, and these make it a bit of a slog to play through in long sessions. However, for short bursts, there’s little I can ultimately fault it for. If you’re already a League of Legends fan looking for a different sort of experience, it’s hard not to recommend Hextech Mayhem, though it may be a slightly tougher sell otherwise.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Hextech Mayhem: A League of Legends Story was provided by the publisher.