Piczle Colors

More video game reviews and analyses can be found here.

Title: Piczle Colors
Series: Piczle
Genre: Puzzle, Logic
Developer: Rain Frog
Release Date: January 31, 2019

Piczle Colors cover

System: Nintendo Switch

Piczle Colors is a puzzle game in the Piczle franchise that includes Piczle Lines and the update to that Piczle DX.  PC is a type of nonogram in the similar vein to Picross i.e. a picture logic puzzle in which cells in a grid must be colored or left blank in order to reveal a hidden image.  In the case of Piczle Colors, all the cells are filled with a particular color based on number clues in the the rows and columns.

Piczle Colors screenshotThe logic of the game is simple in theory but becomes complex in action.  Each row and column contain clues to help the player figure out how they should be filled in.  A number in a circle indicates that that particular color will be consecutive, so if we take the first column from the left, we know there will be three whites in a row.  A number that has no circle with not be consecutive.  Examining the same column once more, we know that blue will not fill up six adjacent spaces, and there must be another color in between to break it up.  If the player doesn’t put three whites in a row or does put six blues, an X will appear to indicate it’s not filled out correctly.

There were 300 puzzles at initial release and the developer just added 40 more that were part of one larger picture instead of individual ones.  They also included a way to skip the title screen, but they haven’t yet updated menu navigation, which comes off a bit dated.

Piczle Colors menu screenshotYou have to meticulously scroll through before clicking on arrows at opposite ends of the screen, as opposed to using one of the buttons to back out.

Another issue revolves around colors being either be too close to the background or another color, which can make for some confusion.  It’s possible to change the backdrop, and the colors are always in a particular order; however it can become frustrating, especially if you’re trying to best your last time and pick the wrong one.  The later pictures with more dimensions do come out looking more complex, but the developers could’ve explored options to forestall situations where colors are close in hue.

The initial puzzles are 5×5 then 5×10’s (and the inverse) are introduced before moving onto 10×10 and finally 15×10 puzzles with up to four colors.  There’s the option to do a randomly selected puzzle of the 300 or even an utterly random configuration using the player’s choice of 2-4 colors and any of the dimensions. This is by far the most difficult mode to play in as even 5×5 puzzles can be nigh on insurmountable with or without the optional clue.  The request for a clue can be turned on or off at your leisure or decided on an individual puzzle basis.  The game randomly selects a row and a column, filling out all of the cells there.

Between release date and current, 40 more puzzles were added that were part of one larger picture, and hopefully there will be more updates soon.  Despite its foibles, Piczle Colors is both entertaining and challenging.  It fosters logical thinking, and there’s a legitimate sense of accomplishment when a particularly difficult puzzle is completed.  Often I wasn’t certain or even concerned with what the picture was until I finished, and it’s never a bad thing to become totally engrossed in a game.

4 stars.

Note:  Just a quick reminder: I use the 5 star method for games.

Oxenfree: Review and Analysis

More video game reviews and analyses can be found here.

Note: Source for banner artwork can be found at this site discussing other potential media adaptations of the game.

Title: Oxenfree
Adventure/Exploration, Puzzle, Mystery, Horror
Developer: Night School Studio
Release Date: January 15, 2016

Oxenfree coverLet’s Player: ChristoperOdd
Date Started: 9/2/18
Date Finished: 9/5/18

A supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift.

With a heavy Stranger Things vibe and a female MC who’s a person of color, I couldn’t help but be drawn into this paranormal tale that starts out (like most) normally enough with a group of teenagers participating in a high school rite of passage that turns into a supernatural mystery involving secret subs, a lost crew, and a government cover up not dissimilar to The Philadelphia Experiment and Montauk.

Oxenfree, developed by Night School Studio and the brainchild of former Telltale and Disney employees, was released on January 16, 2016 accompanied by developmental documentaries and an alternative reality game (ARG), which allows players to interact with it in the real world, lending a creepier air to an already eerie narrative.   The atmospheric music, composed by scntfc, adds the perfect accompaniment to Alex and company’s exploration of the abandoned Edwards Island.  Along with the music, Morse code serves an integral part to understanding what happened here, though, as usual, the internet provides for those of us not savvy enough to be knowledgeable.

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What Remains of Edith Finch

More video game reviews can be found here.

Genre: Walking Simulation, Puzzle – Drama
Developer: Giant Sparrow, SCE Studio Santa Monica
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

What Remains of Edith FinchLet’s Player: Cryaotic

There will be another to these shores to remember me. I will rise from the ocean like an island without bottom, come together like a stone, become an aerial, a beacon that they will not forget you. We have always been drawn here: one day the gulls will return and nest in our bones and our history.

-Dear Esther

Part walking simulation, part puzzle, all bittersweet, What Remains of Edith Finch is a deep plunge into the tragic history of the Finch family by Edith, the last daughter of the clan.  Equal parts history and mystery, the the game follows Edith as she wanders through the halls of her family’s lopsided home, recording the lost stories discovered behind sealed doors.  Named for her great-grandmother, Edith chronicles the lives and deaths of her family members who all succumbed to a mysterious “curse” her great-grandfather Odin brought with him across the sea.  Every member of the Finch family found an early quietus save for one child of each generation who survived long enough to make the next.

There’s an eeriness about the game that doesn’t quite border on scary with many of the deaths occurring under potentially supernatural circumstances (e.g. Molly and Milton), and the beauty of it is that the true or false of such is left for the player to divine.  Since I watched the game, I can’t speak for the details of gameplay, but had I the time, I would’ve been able to play through it (and I may possibly do so for a future Let’s Play or stream).  There are no enemies to vanquish nor points to score, and the puzzles are not only intuitive, but intricately connect to each relative’s story.

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Valiant Hearts: The Great War

More video game reviews can be found here.

Genre: Puzzle, Adventure, Educational
Developer: Ubisoft Montpelier Studios
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Network (PS3), Xbox 360 Games Store, Xbox One

The cover of Valiant Hearts: The Great WarLet’s Player: Cryaotic

Some spoilers for the beginning.

“War makes monsters of us all.”
-George R. R. Martin “A Game of Thrones”

“I was never a hero.  That’s just how they justify war.”
Northern Lights

There is nothing great about war, but there is something to be garnered from its portrayal.  Inspired by letters found during the First World War, Valiant Hearts is nothings less than a a bittersweet masterpieve.

I actually wound up watching this game by accident; I thought I was clicking on Vandal Hearts, but even when the realization set it, I was already hooked.  Valiant Hearts: The Great War manages to be entertaining, funny, heartbreaking, and educational.  I learned more about the first World War than I ever did in history class.  I knew about the assassination of Franz Ferdinand (hell there’s even a street near me named after him), but I didn’t know about the treaties France had signed prior that drew them into the conflict, nor was I informed about what they did to their German residents, though I’m sadly not surprised.  It’s not without its precedence, nor have we presently learned.

Karl, a farmer living in the French countryside with his wife Marie and their son Victor, is forced to leave and return to Germany where’s he promptly drafted (like…seriously?  Why would you do that France??  Obviously any able-bodied men sent back are going to be conscripted!  I mean…I understand the “logic” behind it, xenophobic and paranoid as it is, but I don’t understand why they didn’t realize that someone like Karl would be loyal to the land where he and his family resided and ousting people like him from the country is a bad move since it only served to augment their enemy’s ranks *sigh*).  Not long after Karl’s forced departure, Marie’s aged father Emile is impressed as well, leaving the young mother alone to tend to the harvest and care for her son.

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Ori and the Blind Forest

More video game reviews can be found here.

Series: Ori
Genre: Puzzle, Platformer, Adventure – Fantasy
Developer: Moon Studios
Release Date: March 11, 2015
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360 Games Store, Xbox One

The cover of Ori and the Blind ForestLet’s Player: Cryaotic

Some spoilers for the beginning.

Ori and the Blind Forest is a beautiful Metroidvania game that had me weeping within the first ten minutes.  That beats Up’s record.

A screenshot of Pixar's Up with Ellie and Carl lying on a blanket in the grass

I was a mess five minutes later though.

The moment the game starts, you’re sucked into another world, and everything about it facilitates this journey: the painting-like scenery of forest, the ethereal music, and the instantly endearing relationship between Ori, who fell out of the Spirit Tree during a  storm, and his adoptive mother Naru who could’ve stepped straight out of a Miyazaki movie.

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The Witch’s House

More video game reviews can be found here.

Genre: Puzzle/Horror
Developer: Fummy
Release Date: October 3, 2012
Let’s Player: Cryaotic
Recommended By: Lost to the Aether

The Witch’s House is an indie horror puzzler built using RPG Maker VX.  This gives it the look and sprites of a 90s JRPG, which seems adorable until you’re killed by a teddy bear.

This is only the first of many jump scares that did their job with me, because I’m a wuss puss.  You will die.  You will die a lot while playing this game.

This screen will become all too familiar.

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The State of the Gamer: 5/2/17

<–The State of the Gamer: 4/25/17          The State of the Gamer: 5/9/17–>

A weekly post updated every Tuesday detailing my current gaming projects.  I have quite a backlog of games to either play or watch, and I’m hoping a weekly article will assist with my progress as my other accountable posts have done with reading and writing.
I have an account at Grouvee, which is a essentially Goodreads for gamers, so please feel free to friend me there!
Original source of the banner art is located here.

Currently Playing: 2

Title: Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square Enix
Platform(s): iOS, Android
Release Date: June 29, 2016
Date Purchased: March 21, 2017
Date Started: March 27, 2017

I’m starting to get into a rhythm with this game.  I start it up, send and receive my friend gifts, summon a unit if I have enough friend points to do so, check the daily deals, purchase the four available cactuar (experience) units, buy the 100 lapis 30k gil bundle, and redeem my rewards including the daily one (I try to log in at least once a day even if I don’t play).  Then I upgrade some units, and I’m trying to figure out an organization for that like just enhancing one at a time.  After that I check my open missions and then go out into the world.

I want to start concentrating on awakening my units, but for that I need to collect awakening materials like Heaven Ash and Sacred Crystals, which randomly drop in the Chamber of Awakening in the Vortex.  I may make a spreadsheet for this, though I know I said I’d make one for the characters.  I realized this was an uphill and futile task since I draw and fuse characters constantly, so they’re never static.  The idea is still in the back of my head, but since I also can’t think of the best way to do it, I’m going to leave it for now.

I’m in the Lanzelt Ruins right now for anyone else who’s playing, too.  I’m not as far along as a lot of people, and I really want to know why some of the announcements are spoiling the story!  Like saying things about Fina, one of the main characters.  I just kind of skim through it and go back just to remove the notification (I hate those), but I want to work on my characters before I continue on with the story.

I really, really wish they’d give you the option of paying for a particular character you wanted, though I suppose I could spring for 5000 lapis and the 11 draw.  Maybe that will be my weekly FFBE budget.  Granted with my luck I’ll do that and still not get Setzer.  I ask again; how am I going to have my white haired pretty boy band if I don’t get him and (hopefully) eventually Sephiroth?!

Title: The Room
Genre: Puzzle, Mystery
Developer: Fireproof Games
Platform(s): iOS, Android
Release Date: September 2012
Date Purchased: April 16, 2017
Date Started: April 16, 2017

I completed Chapter 2 of this this week, and this game is so addictive.  Once I started the chapter, I couldn’t stop until I had opened the puzzle box.  I’m going to try to do Chapter 3 with minimal hints.  Three’s a Room 2 and 3 out, and something tells me that they probably cost money.  Reel them in with a free sample then charge them once they’re addicted.

Games Currently Watching

Title: Phantasy Star
Series: Phantasy Star
Genre: RPG – Fantasy/Science Fiction
Developer: Sega
Original Platforms: Sega Master System
Other Platforms: Sega Genesis, Wii Virtual Console
Original Release Date: December 20, 1987
Let’s Player: Hungry Goriya
Date Started: March 24, 2017

I can’t recall what happened in the last episode I watched!  Oh, I remember.  Alis and company found someone to make them a spacecraft, but they need to find a robot named Hapsby to pilot it.

Title: Mass Effect III
Series: Mass Effect
Genre: Action RPG – Sci-Fi
Developer: BioWare
Original Platform(s): Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
Original Release Date: March 6, 2012
Let’s Player: Olizandri
Date Started: January 23, 2017

I finished watching the siege of the Citadel where *spoiler* Shepherd kills the traitor Udina, never liked that guy anyway, and then that scene with Thane ;_; *end spoiler*  I’m not going to lie; I got a bit misty, especially when *spoiler* his son *end spoiler* read that beautiful prayer along with Shepherd.  It can never be said that Mass Effect does not evoke a strong emotional response.

Games Added to Playlist: 0

Total Games in Backlog: 102
Change from Last Week: 0

Games Added to Watch List: 0

Total Games on Watch List: 22
Change from Last Week: 0

Games Purchased This Week: 1

Title: Abzû
Date Purchased: May 2, 2017
Price: $0.00
Retailer: PlayStation Network (PSN)

It’s currently free on the PSN.  Pick it up now!  I’m going to check the network as soon as I post this to see what else is free or cheap.


Nothing interesting this week.

What are you currently playing and/or watching? Is it something new or old?  Is it a first time run or a replay?  What’s the genre?  Would you recommend it?  What’s on your radar to play next?

<–The State of the Gamer: 4/25/17          The State of the Gamer: 5/9/17–>