Pixel Perfect – Pictopix (Steam Review)

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A Nonogram is a logic puzzle in which you reveal a pixel art picture by shading in different squares on a grid in accordance with the numbers written on the side and the top. It’s probably easier to picture this if you look at the images accompanying the article. If a grid is 10 x 10 and a number on the side of a row says 10, then you fill in all of the blank spaces on that row. If it says zero, you fill in none of them, marking them to be left blank. If it is anything in between you have to use logic to determine which of the squares need filling in.

For example if – in the same 10 x 10 grid, the numbers at the side said ‘8,1’ you have to fill in eight squares and one square in that order. Therefore, you fill in eight squares first, then mark one square to be left blank as a space in between, then fill in the remaining square. All separate numbers must be represented with at least one space in between them. Combining these clues with the clues of the rows and columns left to fill in is immensely satisfying, each new revelation giving you a clue to the next square that needs to be filled. A good Nonogram has no guesswork in it and every time you recognise a square that needs to be filled or left blank, you feel like a detective or a member of Mensa, when in actual fact you’re just following a rigid set of rules where the only possible reason for a mistake would be human error.

There is nothing worse than a bad Nonogram that forces you to guess. Mistakes in these puzzles would make a game extremely frustrating to attempt and almost impossible to complete. Pictopix is not one of these examples. It is one of the most intuitive and gratifying systems of Nonogram I have ever used. The puzzles come in three difficulties. The most difficult lets you deduce the picture’s logic entirely of your own volition. Intermediate lets you know when you have filled in the requisite number of squares to complete a line or column and Novice highlights rows that have deducible numbers in them, giving you a gentle push in the right direction. Crucially, the game also comes with a fantastically easy-to-use tutorial that ensures you start the game understanding the procedures and can proceed equipped with all the essential knowledge.  When you feel you’ve mastered the game’s mechanics there’s even a customisable endless mode where you can just zone out and play the game for hours without interruption.

Pictopix is a charming, relaxing puzzle experience with a calming soundtrack and an aesthetic that ensures you always have all of the information you need to progress; it even has Twitch integration allowing you to play with your favourite streamers by using commands in the chat. Sure, they’ve still not fixed the Picross problem of having obtuse pixel art that half the time you can’t be sure it is what the game tells you it is, even after you’ve solved the puzzle, but that’s all part of the charm. I feel confident in my declaration that Pictopix is the definitive Nonogram puzzle game on Steam’s platform.