Puzzle games that trade in honeycomb hexagons crowd the gaming landscape. But Fractal: Make Blooms Not War (from Auditorium and Pulse developer Cipher Prime) shares only a few strands of DNA with the tired match-3 genre, instead asking that players clear seven like-coloured hexagons in a game of block shunting of often confounding complexity.
The rules are disarming in their simplicity - but it takes time before you begin to feel out the boundaries of possibility and strategy. You must clear a set number of hexagons by tapping on empty spaces on the grid. Doing so pushes the adjacent tiles outwards by one space, creating new hexes in the displaced spaces. Create a grouping of seven hexes in the 'push' and they disappear in a particle-spewing 'bloom', moving you seven points closer to the total to clear the level.
The campaign is spread across 30 levels that scale in difficulty faster than most puzzle games of this ilk. Before you make it out of the first third of the game you will be juggling multiple colour hexes on the grid (only like-coloured hexes can be matched together), while the introduction of mines and a lightning tile that clears all connected tiles of the same colour introduces an element of semi-unforeseeable randomness to keep things dynamic and unexpected.