Take a tried and true gameplay mechanic and slap some RPG elements on top and I’m a happy boy, and this is something we’ve seen a lot of over the years with game mechanics like match-3, blackjack, and even slot machines. But I really can’t recall ever seeing a Picross (aka Nonogram) game that was an RPG blend. Which is a shame because I LOVE Picross and would welcome having RPG elements layered on top. Well that is more or less what developer NanoPiko has done with their game PictoQuest: The Cursed Grids, which launched on the Nintendo Switch eShop back in August of last year and has garnered a positive reception from players over there. And really, PictoQuest seems like too good of a fit for mobile devices to NOT be released on mobile too, which is exactly what they’ve done this week on iOS.
Playing PictoQuest is probably just as you’d imagine it would be. You travel around an overworld map similar to something like Super Mario Bros. 3‘s and each level you encounter is a Picross puzzle to solve. Many of the puzzles you can just take your time with and you’ll receive an item when you’ve successfully completed it. Other puzzles feature enemies to battle where they attack at set intervals, so it acts as sort of a clock to push you to figure out and solve the puzzle before the enemy is able to reduce all of your health points with attacks. There are also boss battles which operate in a similar fashion, and the timed aspect of these battles adds a sense of urgency to an otherwise relaxing style of puzzle. I’m not usually a fan of feeling rushed in puzzle games but here the mixture of the two types works well and gives the game a better sense of drama.
Other than solving puzzles you can also run into various NPCs who will challenge you to complete a certain task which, spoiler alert, will involve solving a Picross puzzle. There’s also shops to buy various helpful items like life-restoring potions or other items which can help you out when you’re trying to solve a puzzle. The levels in PictoQuest start out easy enough with simple 5×5 grids, but pretty quickly start to balloon out and increase in challenge as you progress. The larger puzzles can be especially exciting when you’ve got an enemy’s attacks counting down in the background. There’s an absolute ton of content to chew through here, and if you enjoy Picross puzzles and light RPG elements, and have longed for a game to blend both together, you’d be wise to check out PictoQuest on the App Store right now for $3.99 with no IAP, and check out our forums for even more impressions of the game.