Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: Piczle Lines DX


Piczle Lines DX is a great example of a title that you can get the idea of, and appreciate to a degree, from some screen shots or video but that you don’t fully grasp until you play it. You can see the colors and numbers that are used to help you properly color in the pixel puzzle put before you, you can understand that there could be some complexity in larger puzzles to do it all correctly, but when you go to do it yourself you’ll quickly find the exercise can be much trickier than you’d think. It is the simultaneously casual and yet contemplative aspect of Piczle Lines DX that really makes it shine on the Nintendo Switch and it has a truckload of content so I’ll be enjoying it for quite a while.




The games that it reminds me the most of, for reference, are the Picross titles I’ve always enjoyed on my DS systems. The mechanic here is obviously different, with the grid and process of elimination being replaced by numbered end points that you’ll need to connect in a given number of moves, but in the end the challenge and process is very similar. In the early stages it tends to be pretty straightforward as you get your legs but once it begins to hit its groove you’ll quickly find yourself having to backtrack and experiment to determine which lines are “keys” that absolutely have to be drawn a certain way and then using those to help determine how to draw the rest. I suppose there may be some people who could find this aggravating but I would assume they’re not likely puzzle fans anyway, for me I found it all very satisfying once I figured it out.


One of the concerns I’ve seen brought up is with the fact that this game can be obtained for “free” on the mobile side, though I think that’s missing the point to a fair degree. The base is free, and if you only wanted to get a taste of the game and stop playing that may be your best bet. However, if you’re really into it, the mobile game will charge you a comparable amount in order to unlock additional puzzles, the same ones that come with the version on the Switch. When we’re talking about a base 100 puzzles just in Story Mode, more than another 100 already in Puzzle Mode, and the developer intends to add more puzzles moving forward that will remain free for Switch users while paid DLC on mobile and you get the idea.



That leads into what I think is another advantage on the Switch, sheer versatility. I would consider the optimal way to play the game to be in handheld mode, the touch controls help you move and zoom efficiently, and obviously tracking with your finger to draw in lines is very basic. However, I will say that playing with the JoyCon in docked mode isn’t terribly far behind in ease and though sometimes the cursor control will zig when you meant to zag that's no big deal, you just backtrack and correct. Additionally, you could certainly run into the same issue using your fingers, so I like having both viable options for control available to me.


In the end Piczle Lines DX is one of those games where, with the nature of its puzzle challenge, you’re either already interested in it or likely haven’t even bothered to read this far into a review because it doesn’t seem appealing. For puzzle fans there’s very little I can cite as a downside, the challenge ramps up pretty quickly, and you’ll have to use your deductive reasoning to come up with strategies to attack puzzles efficiently and with a solid plan to be successful. Add in the sheer volume of content and you’ll be able to enjoy it for quite some time. Puzzle fans rejoice, the game may be “simple” but it is a winner!


Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • An extremely satisfying degree of challenge as the puzzles progressively get bigger and tougher
  • Very well-suited to playing casually while you do something else or while on-the-go
  • Well over 200 puzzles already with more promised to be added in the future (for free!)
Cons:
  • If you're not into puzzle games why are you even reading this far?
  • If I'm being picky maybe some of the load screen times seem long

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