Piczle Cross Adventure

Developer: Score Studios
Plug In Digital
Steam / Switch

Reviewed on PC (Steam)

Quick Impression: A series of nonograms bound loosely together by adventure-game trappings, this game delivers puzzle aplenty but little else (and that’s a good thing).

As you may have noticed, Bring Your Own Pixels now has another type of article. In addition to full reviews, we’ve started adding Impression articles. These are for Early Access titles, little gems that are too limited in scope for a full review but still worth discussing, or games that the reviewer wants to share but has not yet played to completion.

Today we’re perusing one from the third category. I’m enjoying Piczle Cross Adventure quite a bit, but it’s a long game and I can’t justify blitzing to the finish just to write a full review. So instead I’ll share my thoughts thus far and play through the rest at my leisure. Now, if you’ll forgive my lack of grit – pretty please with sugar (and sprinkles) on top? – we’ll get on with the impressions.

Puzzling by the pyramids

I won’t lie: I enjoy my nonograms. Their rules are simple and they don’t require much, if any, critical thinking, yet I love the way they make my noggin churn. They’re like crack for my brain. So I knew going into this game that I would enjoy it at least on some level and it has not disappointed. Conversely, if you don’t enjoy picross, you can stop reading now because this game has little chance of turning you into a convert.

When you’re not solving puzzles, you wander around the small game world, talking with citizens of the Piczle-verse and uncovering items. The exploration mechanics are basic, but I appreciated the context they brought to the experience. In a smart move, developer Score Studios kept the dialogues and cutscenes mercifully short. The result is like a pinch of spice that enhances the main course.

I see what you did there, Ma and Pa Chromatic

As for the puzzles themselves, they are perhaps slightly mundane. Most are pictograms of everyday objects, such as tools, trees, and animals. If you’re looking for puzzles with a strong sense of theme or that feature unique objects, like those in many Nintendo-published picross games, you’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, the puzzles do seem well-designed in a functional sense. They offer little breadcrumbs at the right times, and frequently required me to employ a variety of techniques from my picross-solving toolkit. And should you need a little help, there are hint options at your disposal.

The pixel art is big and blocky. By default it runs through a CRT filter but you can turn this off if you wish. Personally I find the art style charming but your mileage may vary. I also enjoy the music – there’s nothing better than chiptunes to get your brain juices flowing – but it does grow repetitive. Eventually I turned it off and piped in my own soundtrack.

Exploring the world is a pleasant diversion

At the end of the day, Piczle Cross Adventure is picross with a spot of garnish. And there’s plenty of it to go around – I’ve played about 14 hours and I’m slightly below 50% completion. If you love picross, Piczle Cross Adventure is unlikely to disappoint you. If you don’t love picross, well, then why are you still here reading this article? Madness! As for me? I’m going to play just one more puzzle. JUST. ONE. MORE!