If you have ever played a Picross game before, you’ll know exactly what to expect from Picross E4. It gives you a series of puzzles, the aim of which is to fill in squares on a grid depending on the numbers around the outside. Doing so unveils a simple pixel picture. That’s it.
But let’s assume you don’t know the details. Starting off with 5×5 grids and working up to 10×10, each column and row has a number that corresponds to how many squares in that line are coloured in. 4 would mean 4 in a row coloured in, while a 2,3 means 2 in a row and then 3 in a row.
The complexity comes from working out where the squares should go based on how the numbers for each row and column intersect. Complete it and the squares you’ve filled in will colour and create a picture, a lamp or a bird for example. It’s a nice payoff, but it only lasts a few seconds.
Technically each puzzle is timed, the aim being to fill them in as quickly as possible. Attempt to fill in an incorrect square and a time penalty is applied, which increases with each subsequent mistake, 2 minutes at first, then 4 etc. It’s nice that there’s a sense of challenge, but I can’t imagine there’s a massive temptation to replay a puzzle – once you know the picture you’re trying to make it becomes pretty easy to solve it a second time.
There are two other twists on the formula in Micross and Mega Picross modes. Micross has you solve an 8×8 Picross puzzle, then a separate 10×10 puzzle for each square filled in the 8×8 overall grid. It creates a larger and more detailed picture, but is essentially the same mode on a larger scale. Mega Picross, meanwhile, is more challenging. The numbers around the edge can span two rows, the line having to be continuous across them both.
You’re helped in solving the puzzles in two ways. The most obvious is the colouration of the numbers. Black are regular, but as you put numbers in they turn blue, indicating that solving them may be slightly easier. There are also optional hints that can be turned on at the start of every puzzle, which solve one row and one column for you. I didn’t really see the point of the latter – you play a puzzle for the satisfaction of solving it yourself; asking for help to do so feels like cheating.
VERDICT: Despite all of this, something about Picross E4 is timeless. People don’t complain Sudoku doesn’t change, they’ll complete the one in the paper day in day out. And that’s what Picross E4 is, more of the same. If you enjoy a light puzzler this collection is for you, but it won’t change your mind about the series if you’ve already decided it’s not your thing.
DECENT. A 6/10 indicates that, while this game could be much better, it still has a fair amount to offer the player. It might be an interesting title sabotaged by its own ambition, or a game denied greater praise by some questionable design choices. Don’t avoid it outright, but approach it with caution.
Review code provided by publisher.