There's a certain kind of puzzle game that would gnaw away at my gaming hours if I let it, logic puzzles with a hint of drawing, like Picross, or the excellent PathPix series on iOS. These are games that rely on incredibly simple and clear rules. Colors and numbers sit on a grid, and they tell you exactly how to put together a picture if only you can figure out how to make them all work together.

Puzzle Restorer [Free] fits perfectly within that description, but it's a new sort of beast. The picture is already there in a reference image; it's your job to make the one on screen match it. You have two limitations: the number of strokes you can make, and how much squares you can fill with paint. Within those limitations is a host of interesting puzzle possibilities.

At first the game will be very familiar to anyone who's played a PathPix title: you know the area you need to fill, and you know how many squares it will take to fill it, so all you need to figure out is the path that will manage both conditions.

From those early, easy steps the game gets more and more clever—always using the same simple rules. For instance, to paint a line you need to start it and end it on the color you want to paint with, so finding the right start and end point can be confounding. After that, you'll find you need to use more colors and more strokes to complete each puzzle.

The biggest step is when Puzzle Restorer starts demanding you mix colors—painting over black does nothing, but painting one color over another will mix the two together. Elementary school color theory will suffice here, but deciding exactly how to get the colors you need where you need them can be a bit of a trip, particularly when you need to avoid contrasting colors and anything that's already correct.

In a strange twist, the game's only real problem is communicating the image you need to replicate, especially in the more complex puzzles of the bunch. There's no full-scale reference for the image you're trying to restore, no easy overlay. That means complicated images sometimes require a lot of back-and-forth comparison, a tedious process that adds nothing to the experience.

Otherwise, there's nothing fussy to get in the way of a relaxing, thoughtful time. You can undo moves easily, or simply trace them back. You're never left wondering if a move is legal until it's too late. Just follow the rules, and all will be well.

Like any of its logic game brethren, Puzzle Restorer thrives on the strength of those rules. Because they make a solid foundation, the game is free to open up into greater and greater challenges without ever becoming bogged down in complexity. This could be the start of a puzzle game legacy if Gavina Games has the tenacity to keep it going. As a new twist on a popular type of puzzle game, there's plenty of room to grow.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • 1Fcm

    This is a really good puzzler. I like it as much as the Flow games. It's a good twist on that formula.

  • rodgerodger

    I haven't played many of the other 'path' puzzle games, but I'm quite enjoying this one. I really like the painter presentation. That helps the game really stand out from so many others.

  • Andy C83

    This is such a charming game; highly reccommended. :)

  • MidianGTX

    Decent little game. The only thing that holds it back from being the best is its need to keep adding new twists as you progress. Sure, that adds variety, but with the most addictive puzzlers, you don't really need that variety. Sudoku and crosswords are essentially the same thing over and over, and that's also why Pathpix shone. It allowed the player to really get used to the flow of the game without finding themselves getting stuck. Plus it allows for mass puzzle generation. I think the Pathpix games have close to 1000 puzzles in total now, compared to 80 here.

    It's not necessarily a fault per se, but it's the reason this can't beat Pathpix in my opinion.

    • http://twitter.com/PolarBirdStudio Brian Hobbs

      I actually found the twists to be part of the charm. Really, there's only one twist, though: color mixing. There are different layers to it that get slowly introduced, but they all revolve around pretty basic color mixing theory. So by second tier of levels, you pretty much get it. This is, of course, not including those bonus levels where things get wacky.

      • homosaur

        I agree, for 99¢ I can deal with it being a little basic, hopefully they can do well with this app and create some more challenging IAP or a 2nd game soon. I really like these sorts of grid based puzzles for some reason.

      • MidianGTX

        That's true. To be honest I'm not that far into the second set of levels myself. I guess the problem with good puzzle games is you just don't want them to end. Pathpix seems to go on forever so I can jump back into it at any time, and if I do finish every puzzle, I'll have completely forgotten the first one so starting over won't be an issue. It almost feels greedy to ask for more, but then, if you were buying a crossword app you'd probably go for one with regular updates.

  • http://redbarrels.net/ Graeme

    For what it's worth here, I found Piczle Lines to be a far superior game, compared to PathPix, on the iPhone. Though unfortunately there have been no new IAP packs recently :( Still, this looks good, will grab it later to play :)

  • jarodx

    It looks good. I like this style.

Puzzle Restorer Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 4