Last week, Netflix Gaming formally launched in a way we didn’t predict when the service was first teased earlier this year. Instead of churning out games for home consoles or creating a cloud-based streaming service a la Google Stadia and others, Netflix opted to create a smartphone-exclusive gaming portal, free to anyone who has a paid Netflix subscription.
What’s more, Netflix Gaming’s day-one library consisted entirely of games that had previously launched on Android, with a mix of licensed Stranger Things games and generic tap-action smartphone fare. But game development exec Mike Verdu teased more to come: “Just like our series, films, and specials, we want to design games for any level of play and every kind of player, whether you’re a beginner or a lifelong gamer,” he said at the time.
Today, Netflix takes the wraps off a more interesting game for its smartphone-only service: a previously unannounced League of Legends spinoff with promising gameplay and serious developer pedigree.
Don’t expect competitive online MOBA battling, however. Hextech Mayhem: A League of Legends Story comes from Choice Provisions, a studio best known for the Bit.Trip series of arcade rhythm games, and the studio continues that lineage with a flashy, smartphone-friendly game that looks a bit like “Bit.Trip Bomberman.” Today, Netflix Gaming and Riot Games have confirmed that Hextech Mayhem will “soon” become part of Netflix Gaming, following its launch on Nintendo Switch and PC on November 16.
This song is da bomb
And if this is what Netflix Gaming titles will look like going forward, the service has a much better chance of standing out.
Hextech Mayhem‘s 90-second debut trailer is packed with real-time gameplay that resembles how it will look on newer smartphones. The trailer highlights three actions that main character Ziggs can do in the game: jump, butt-slam, and bomb. Much like in Bit.Trip Runner, Hextech Mayhem‘s levels and on-screen icons clarify when to use each of these actions, and Ziggs helps you in this effort by running to the beat of the game’s music. Tap each of the buttons to the beat, and you’ll trigger each level’s bomb-like blasts of percussion.
A closer look at the trailer suggests many objects and triggers that stray from Ziggs’ running path, however, implying that each level will have additional depth for point-chasers to dig into. We’re still waiting to see exactly how deep the final game will turn out to be—not to mention how long Netflix Gaming users will have to wait after Hextech Mayhem‘s PC and Switch launches for their own version.
Hextech Mayhem‘s lack of a Netflix Gaming release date may very well have to do with the service’s current Android-only restriction. Netflix reps have previously suggested that the service is “on the way” to iOS, so we wonder whether that might coincide with a League of Legends-related game launch.
Speaking of: Netflix is currently all-in on League of Legends, thanks to the recent launch of Netflix and Riot Games’ tie-in TV series Arcane. Curiously, today’s Hextech Mayhem announcement mentions the upcoming launch of Riot’s previously announced turn-based RPG Ruined King: A League of Legends Story. But the announcement tiptoes around whether Ruined King (as developed by the creators of Battle Chasers: Nightwar) might see its own launch on either smartphones or Netflix Gaming. (Either way, the game still doesn’t have a release date.) RK‘s previously released gameplay footage revolves around menu-driven RPG battling, and it looks like it might play smoothly on a smartphone. That wouldn’t be a bad possible bonus for paying Netflix subscribers.
Somehow, Hextech Mayhem‘s existence didn’t leak after Riot went on a game-announcement spree in late 2019. Many of the teased games and projects from that event have since launched, including Valorant and League of Legends: Wild Rift. Meanwhile, the company’s previously announced 2D fighting game (codenamed “Project L”) has reportedly entered a “private testing” phase while remaining otherwise hidden.