In today’s gaming landscape, it can be difficult for smaller publishers to stand out. Sure, there’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, but with thousands of other games vying for attention, it’s easy to get lost in the fray. To be honest, it is almost impossible for many media outlets to handle every review code sent to them, and here we often have to choose games for which we have enough time to write a review. In some cases, like Depixtion, we may have never heard of this game. Fortunately, I’m always up for more Picross-style puzzles, and this one seemed intriguing, so I figured, why not give it a try? I was more than pleasantly surprised by the end result!
I’ve played almost every great Picross game Jupiter has released over the decades. With the introduction of new titles like Picross S3, developers have started to incorporate more appealing and sometimes challenging colorful puzzles. Depixtion takes this concept even further, creating a truly immersive gameplay mechanic that takes the entire genre to the next level.
When I was a kid, I had a game called 3D Tic Tac Toe on my Commodore 64. It takes the simple idea of the original game, but expands it by using different levels of the game board, making the game both more strategic and more engaging. The developers of Depixtion took the same concept and applied it to Picross. To solve each puzzle, you’ll need to solve three separate Picross puzzles, each of which is on top of the other. There are red, yellow and blue layers – each with variations in light and dark colors (e.g. dark red and light red), and when you have finished all three color images, the image is complete. You can switch freely from one level to another at any time, and this 3D concept works exceptionally well here.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of Picross, the rules are pretty simple. You start with a grid of empty squares. The numbers along the rows and columns determine the number of boxes to be filled. Some rows and columns have more than one number, so you can use them for example. For example, have a line with 10 empty fields, and there is a number 5 and a number 2. This means that 7 out of 10 must be completed, but which one? If they are the same color, there should be a space between the filled squares. If the two numbers are different, they may collide. It’s a little hard to explain in words because it’s a very visual exercise, but the fact is that as you fill in the cells in the various columns and rows, you start referring to the numbers and determine which cells to fill in positively and which to leave blank.
At the top left of the screen you will see the enlarged image you are currently working on. By filling in the squares, you can see the image taking shape. What’s really cool is that the image really comes alive when you switch from layer to layer and add different colors. On the right side of the screen, you can see how the three layers fit together at any given time. For the first few seconds of the game, I was a little worried that it would be too difficult or too hard to follow everything, but the game is easy to pick up and play, so you don’t get stuck in the different levels.
If you’re a Picross veteran, there are some quirks here. First: Although we can change the controls, I couldn’t get the B key to bring X down to keep the space clear. Other games use this button for this function, so you had to get used to not using it for this purpose. Instead, use this button for one of the colors you can use. The other little thing that bothered me at first was that the grilles are 4×4 instead of the usual 5×5. Since I’m used to sweeping the entire field and counting quickly, this little change ruined my seats for a good half hour of play. In the end, I’m used to change, but it’s a strange design decision.
The presentation is very refreshing. Over the years, I’ve discovered that regular Picross games often don’t have the best pixelated objects. In other words: I often solve puzzles and have to wait for the game to tell me exactly what I just created. With Depixtion, I usually knew long before the movie would end. This is useful for the most difficult puzzles, because you can only guess where to fill in the square by looking at the resulting image. The added colors really bring the game to life, and I love the little animations as you solve the puzzle and the clever phrases that appear underneath.
The experience is complemented by a beautiful soundtrack. In some past Picross games I turned off the music because it got too boring, but here the music is ice cold and I’d say it’s addictive. It has a good rhythm and never sounds too intrusive or out of place. Several people walked around the room while I was playing and said the music was really good, so kudos to the composer!
I always like having good Picross games, but most unofficial games have flaws. This is a rare example of a small promoter trumping the big ones. As much as I enjoyed the main Jupiter series (and probably will continue to), as much as I enjoyed Depixtion. It can be more satisfying to find three separate puzzles to make a picture of, and it’s just fun to see it all together. You have 96 images to solve through 288 Picross puzzles, so you should be busy for a while. Besides, the Switch is such a great system for these types of games that you can just pick it up and play a few rounds between meetings and so on. Whether you’re new to these types of puzzles or a Picross veteran, there are hours of fun to be had here!
Overview of operations
- Charts – 8.5/10
- Sound – 9/10
- Gameplay – 9/10
- Late Call – 8.5/10
Final thoughts : EXAMPLES
I didn’t expect a developer I’d never heard of (DevHour Games) to outdo Jupiter (the developers of the original Picross), but that’s exactly what Depixtion does. Each image contains three layers (each with a different base color) of Picross puzzles to solve, making the final image even more fun once completed. Add a great soundtrack and you have a winner. Puzzle lovers should devour this.
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently an editor and contributor to Age of Games.
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