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.