Nintendo fans in the DS era were treated to some wonderful puzzlers, including plenty of new takes on the genre. Picross got a new lease of life on the system thanks to the touch-screen capabilities, while Su Doku was an addictive way to pass the time as a side-challenge on Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training.
Piczle Lines DX can perhaps best be described as a combination of those two games. Presented with a grid of varying sizes, you have a number of numbered and coloured squares in front of you. The objective is to colour in the entire square to reveal a picture pattern, much in the ilk of Picross but, instead of just colouring blocks in and dodging the rest, you need to use a line to connect two blocks which have the same number written on them and which share the same colour. The number is the indication of how many squares total the line must cover; so a green seven needs to be matched with another green seven by a line which takes up seven squares.
Starting out as a touch screen game on mobiles and tablets, you can probably imagine that it’s a lot easier to stay on top of when you’re using a touch screen and, fortunately, this deluxe Switch version offers that very possibility. Keeping the console in handheld mode also makes the numbers and colours clearer to the eye – if you’re sitting a way away from the TV it does get tough to make out some of the numbers, though the X and Y buttons do allow you to zoom in and out.
That’s not to say the game doesn’t look as good in docked mode, though – much like most of the Switch’s other indie offerings, Piczle Lines DX looks beautiful on the big screen, and it’s a great title for getting the family involved to suggest solutions and help you out. It’s the sort of game which all of your family members will be able to take to quickly – and yes, that does include Grandma! Tell her it’s something else for her to do once she’s finished her newspaper crossword pages… It’s a game that’s not too difficult for anyone in the family either. Yes, it’s a challenge, but everyone will be able to figure it out if they put their mind to it hard enough – to me, that’s the sign of a great puzzle game!
If the touch screen isn’t your thing and you want to play on the big screen, you can, of course, do so using the controllers. The accuracy of the analogue stick in differentiating between the squares you’re trying to navigate isn’t particularly fool-proof – you are going to find yourself accidentally dragging lines from the wrong square, or even accidentally erasing lines you’ve already completed unless you’re particularly careful.
If you just want to take on a puzzle at a time, Puzzle Mode is the mode for you. With 220 individual puzzles to solve here, you won’t be finished with these for some time and, of course, there’s endless replayability when you have so many puzzles on offer. If you’d like a little something extra to keep you interested, the game does have a story mode, and it has you reading a narrative through a comic strip before completing puzzles to create items to display in a room. It’s a nice little touch that every single puzzle you complete has some sort of reward that you can look at once it’s done, and each section of the story mode is just short enough to not feel repetitive.
However, this isn’t really the sort of game that you’d want to buy and then complete in one sitting. You can pause any puzzle at any point, and come back to continue from where you left off at a later date. It’s the ideal sort of game for playing in short bursts, whether you’re on a train journey, waiting five minutes to pick up the kids from school or just getting a ten-minute session in before bed. Just one big negative, though… the music is VERY catchy, to the point of very annoying. You’ll likely find yourself hitting the mute button after half an hour’s play before you go insane, like I did…
If you’re casually browsing the Switch eShop, you may be a little stumped at the price of Piczle Lines DX (£13.99 in the UK), given the relatively simple concept and the fact it’s a mobile port. But there’s no need to be. Though the smartphone version is free to play, buying all the puzzle packs would take you to the price of the Switch version. The Switch version will also receive periodical free updates in the form of puzzle packs – these will cost extra for the mobile versions.
The hardest part of Piczle Lines DX is tearing yourself away from it, to be truthful. It’s the ultimate “just one more game” sort of puzzler, and it’s also the sort that if you get torn away from it by another game for an extended period of time, you can come back to it months or even years down the line and still pick it up as good as new.