The objective of Hexic is to rotate hexagonal pieces of various colors and clear them from the playfield by forming clusters. Clusters are formed when three pieces of the same color touch each other. Pieces above the cleared pieces fall, potentially forming more clusters and causing chain reactions, and new pieces appear at the top of the playfield. Bonuses are awarded for clearing more than three pieces at a time, and some pieces contain bonus stars, which yield extra points and can clear larger groups of pieces depending on how they are cleared.
The player can create a "starflower" by arranging six like-colored pieces into a hexagon or "flower", surrounding a piece of a different color or type. A starflower allows the player to rotate all surrounding pieces clockwise or counterclockwise. Forming a flower of starflowers changes the center piece into a black pearl, which allows the player to move three surrounding pieces in a triangular pattern. The ultimate goal of the game is to form a cluster or flower of black pearls, after which the game will end.
Bombs appear occasionally throughout the game. A bomb is colored like other pieces on the board and can be defused by rotating it into a cluster or flower of the same color. The counter on the bomb counts down with each move, and if allowed to reach zero, it explodes and the game is over. Defusing a bomb by clustering it with at least one multiplier piece of the same color causes all pieces of the same color as the bomb to instantly clear from the playfield.
Hexic offers two variations on the standard Marathon mode: In Timed mode, a timer constantly counts down toward zero, and the game ends when time runs out. The amount of time increases with successful clears, and resets to its maximum value when the player forms a starflower. Creating starflowers also increases the maximum amount of time available, up to two minutes.
Survival mode challenges the player to completely clear the playfield. Unlike in Marathon and Timed modes, clearing pieces from the playfield does not automatically cause new ones to fall from the top. Instead, the player forms clusters and flowers until no more moves are possible, then any remaining pieces are locked in place and all open spaces are filled with new pieces. Clearing clusters with bonus stars causes nearby locked pieces to become unlocked. Forming a flower unlocks all pieces on the board and causes all pieces the same color as the center piece in the flower to clear from the board. If the player successfully clears the entire playfield or survives fifty rounds, they win the game. The game is over if all pieces on the playfield become locked.
In August 2007, Microsoft released Hexic 2 on Xbox Live Arcade, providing new gameplay features and a competitive two-player mode. Additionally, Hexic Tablet was released for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition as part of the Tablet PC Education Pack, allowing players to rotate pieces using a stylus.
Hexic comes with the Zune version 3.0 firmware, released September 16, 2008.