I love Picross puzzles. I could end my review there and give it a score but I think that may be a little short! Pic-a-Pix is a port of the very popular 3DS and Wii U title by the same name from developer Lightwood games. Lightwood games are well known in the world of handheld console puzzle games, with titles such as Epic Word Search, Word Puzzles by POWGI and Word Logic by POWGI. The only downside to this latest title is that it’s a port of the standard version and not the Deluxe one which is currently on the Switch.
I’m hoping that the success of Pic-a-Pix will either allow the developers to offer the Deluxe content via a DLC purchase or consider porting that version across as well in the future.
Where do we begin with Picross? if you have never played one before then I’ll start with the basics. The game is a logic-based visual puzzle which requires you to make educated guesses based on the information you have to hand and by logically looking at what could possibly be in each row and column.
Let’s take a look at the most common version of Picross, the monochrome one. In these you have a grid, let’s say a 5×5 grid, of squares. On the X and Y axis of the grid, you will see numbers, these indicate how many squares in that row or column are ‘coloured in’. So, if you have a row of five squares and there is a number ‘4’ on the side then you know four of the five will be ‘coloured in’. In this instance, you can colour in the middle three as you know that either way, those three will definitely be part of the solution. You’re best working through all the easy and obvious parts, like that one, first, and then going back on yourself to work out the rest.
It’s a really interesting puzzle and it can get hard at times when you have to really break it down and look for the smallest details which usually triggers a domino effect for you. It’s not all straightforward though, let’s say the same 5×5 grid had a 2 and a 2 marked on the same row then this means that two blocks are coloured then a gap of at least one square, and then the other two are coloured in. So in this example, it would have the first two coloured in, then a gap, then the last two coloured in. The game itself has a full set of instructions to teach you, so don’t be put off by my poor explanation. Plus, Pic-a-Pix is different because…
Lightwood Games: How to solve a Colour 15×15 Picross puzzle:
…Pic-a-Pix colour is in colour (obviously)! This makes the game a lot harder as when you play a monochrome version, if you have two or more numbers at the end of a row or column then it means there is a mandatory gap between them. However, in a colour Picross game, there is only a mandatory gap if the colours of the numbers are the same – if they aren’t then it means the proceeding number of coloured-in squares could be literally right next to where the last one ended. This may not sound like much, but it dramatically increases the difficulty of the game. Don’t get me wrong – the game isn’t impossible or really hard, but it does offer a really good challenge, even to myself as someone who plays Picross games all the time. Just for perspective, I’ve completed all 8 of the Picross series’ games on the 3DS, along with the Pokemon and Zelda spin-offs and a load of indie versions as well as both version of Picross 3d on the DS and 3DS. I used to be obsessed with Sudoku puzzles, but Picross soon replaced that obsession many years ago.
The game does a good job of teaching you how to play the game whilst also ramping up the difficulty at an acceptable pace. You begin on 5×5 grids, then 10×10 followed by 15×15, 20×15 and 20×20. There is no penalty for getting things wrong or asking the game for help in removing the ones you got wrong – although you do need to complete them all without asking for help in order to get some trophies. Also, there is a timer within the game, but that’s just for a few trophies as well. You can literally take as long as you want to do a puzzle and as long as you didn’t ask for a hint then you will get the medal.
Speaking of the puzzles themselves, there are 150 in total in Pic-a-Pix which have been designed by Conceptis Ltd – the worlds leading supplier of logic puzzles. Looking at the website for the developer, it seems the 3DS and Wii U version had planned DLC to add more puzzles to the game – I’m not 100% sure on if these came out or how many extra puzzles it added – but it would be nice if the PS4 also received these packs at some point.
The length of the game is also very debatable. We have seen some people get the platinum within around 11 hours although I believe they may have been using a guide. The game has been on other platforms for a while so I imagine there are guides with all the solutions out there for a quick and easy completion. As always, I highly recommend you avoid using a guide as it defeats the purpose of the game if you’re just going to buy it and not even attempt to play it for yourself. With that being said, the game is cross-buy with two platinums which stack. So, the EU and NA versions on the PS4 and Vita all have their own platinum.
Personally, I’ve been playing through it for about 6-8 hours so far and I’m up to the 6th set of 15 puzzles – the 5×5’s took me around 1-3 minutes each, the 10×10’s took me about 5-10 minutes each and the 15×15’s are taking me about 10-20 minutes each. I even tried a 20×20, which took me about 27 minutes. So it all depends on your skill as it isn’t a race – I’m guessing it’s going to take me about 15 hours or so in order to work my way through them all on one platform and then I’ll go through it on the other when I have time.
Graphically I really like the game – it’s nice and simple without over complicating things. Everything is on the screen so you can see it all at a glance, which leads me to one thing people may not like which the developer even emailed me about in case anyone asks. You can’t zoom or scroll the Picross. Due to the way the game is created, everything is on the screen at once and you can’t zoom into smaller sections like you can with Soduku for example. This is because you need to be able to see the numbers on each row and column to work out what goes where – if you zoomed in then you wouldn’t be able to see these anymore. For this, I agree with the developer – although it does get pretty small when doing the 20×20 on a Vita screen!
Speaking of the Vita, the game supports touchscreen but the developers don’t 100% recommend it – and once again, I fully agree. The 5×5, and even the 10×10, puzzles are okay in terms of size. So for those, go wild – use the touchscreen if you want as there is no penalty for doing something wrong, unlike in other Picross games, so it’s okay if you miss-press a few things. But once you jump to anything bigger, you will either need tiny little hands or a stylus. Don’t forget – it was originally a Wii U and 3DS game – both of which had a stylus.
Regarding the sound, there isn’t any. Well, you have the looping music but that’s about it. You have the option to turn the music on or off at your leisure – personally, I left it on the majority of the time, only turning it off when I was watching something on my iPad. The music is cheery and generic (it’s in the trailer below) but it’s only one track that loops, so if you’re playing it a lot then you may wish for different tracks before too long.
Official Trailer (Wii U is the same as the PS4 and Vita versions):
Pic-a-Pix is a very challenging and casual puzzle game which is playable by everyone. It will test your logic skills as well as keep you entertained for hours via both the PS4 and PS Vita via cross-buy. Don’t worry if you’ve never done a Picross style puzzle before, the game gives you a full introduction and will gradually get you into the bigger puzzles without dropping you in the deep end. With its simplistic design, charming music, and the plethora of puzzles on offer – Pic-a-Pix has easily become my favourite logic-based puzzle game on Sony’s platform.
- 150 puzzles to work through
- The colour aspect offers a new challenge in the standard Picross format
- Very easy to control and play with a controller
- Hours of fun trying to solve all the puzzles
- Cross-buy with two platinums
- Music loops and gets a little repetitive with only one track
- Only five 20x20 puzzles
- The first 10x10 puzzle is probably the hardest 10x10 puzzle in the game (if you get stuck, do the others first)
- Color isn't localised...