Are you a fan of Hexcells? Zyne? Pokemon Picross? Good old-fashioned puzzle books? Then you’ll love Pictopix.
Pictopix is a quiet, atmospheric puzzle game where you solve Nonogram puzzles (also known as Picross, Hanjie or Griddlers). Once the puzzle is solved, the picture is revealed and colorized to show what exactly you were “drawing.” For those who don’t know, the basic premise behind nonogram puzzles is there are numbers along both axises of a square grid. Working using the numbers from both axises, you fill in boxes until you make a picture at the end of it.
Pictopix starts with a helpful tutorial that you can choose to skip if you’d like and just get straight to the puzzles. There’s a selection of 5×5 grid puzzles, 10×10, 15×15, 20×20 and 25×25, each getting progressively more difficult. At first, only the 5×5 puzzles are unlocked and you have to progress your way up the difficulty ladder, however, if you want you can bypass most of the lower level puzzles and skip straight to 10×10 once the first of those is unlocked. Each puzzle includes a hint, if you want, as to the nature of the picture, such as “electronics” or “animal.” The hints are vague enough that they’re not huge spoilers, but if you get to the end of the puzzle it’s far less frustrating to fill in the niggling last few squares when you have an idea of generally what you’re aiming for.
The game comes with three difficulty stages, however, they do not change the actual content of the puzzles. Instead, it changes whether or not the numbers at the side get faded out when they are filled in and whether or not solvable rows and columns are highlighted. No matter which difficulty setting you choose initially, these options can be changed at any time from the menu. The puzzles themselves start off incredibly easy if you know what you’re doing but do get more challenging as the grids get larger.
One of the nice extra features about the game is that it has Steam Workshop support, meaning that you can play other people’s puzzle creations or you can make your own if you want. This is totally separate from the main game and you can easily play one without the other. The game also keeps track of how “well” you’re doing by assigning “awards” per puzzle. One for completing the puzzle, one for completing it without hints and one for completing it with a minimum of mistakes. Though the game doesn’t tell you how many mistakes it considers to be too many, the policy is at least a bit more lenient than games that only allow you one misclick, and is far less frustrating and much more enjoyable for it. While the awards don’t do anything in particular, other than count towards steam achievements, they’re a fun way to challenge yourself when replaying levels.
The biggest drawback of Pictopix is that there is no option that allows you to change the music playing in the background. It’s nice, relaxing, elevator-esque music, which is fine, but after a while it can get boring, particularly if you end up getting sucked into a relaxing three-hour puzzle session, or stuck on a particularly complex one. The only other drawback is the lack of a save function when you’re in the middle of a puzzle, but that is also not a problem unique to this game.
The art is clean and simple, and of course minimalistic to match with the puzzle pictures. The pictures themselves are great, but I will admit to mistaking a mailbox for a turtle at one point. I guess it’s an easy mistake to make when working on a 10×10 grid of squares.
Overall, Pictopix is a great little puzzle game, perfect for killing some time or for losing yourself in a long puzzling session. The freshman offering from Tomlab games, a French developer, it will be interesting to see what they come up with next.
Pictopix was reviewed on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.
Pictopix is a quiet and relaxing nonogram puzzler with plenty of challenging puzzles and the right amount of helpful hints for beginners. The major drawbacks are a lack of a save feature and the inability to choose your own music.
- Challenging Puzzles, Helpful Hints
- No Save Feature, Cannot Use Own Music