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Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: DevHour Games
Release Date: Feb. 28, 2020


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Switch Review - 'Depixtion'

by Cody Medellin on April 20, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Welcome to Depixtion, a relaxing puzzle game where you create beautiful works of art using logic.

Much like its handheld predecessor the Nintendo 3DS, the Switch has come into possession of quite a number of Picross and Picross-like games. Most are standard fare, where you can create several pictures out of a grid by filling in black squares. Recently, the games have started to become more ambitious and included RPG elements and even one murder mystery. Depixtion dials the ambition back a bit, but it introduces a fresh new gameplay mechanic.

In Depixtion, you're essentially trying to paint a picture by filling in the squares on a grid. There are numbers on both the horizontal lines and vertical columns, and the numbers serve as keys to decipher which squares need to be filled in. For example, in a 5x5 grid, the top line may present a five to let you know that all five horizontal squares need to be filled in. The first vertical column may give you a two and a two, letting you know that the first two consecutive squares may be filled in, but there needs to be a blank space afterward before you fill in the two other consecutive squares. Once you fill in all of the required squares, a picture emerges, and the puzzle is complete.

There are a few areas where the game breaks from the standard formula. The first area is the fact that the grids don't follow the standard 5x5 format but a 4x4 one instead. Puzzles can go as high as 24x24 and any combinations in between, but those who have played such games before will need to get used to the change in numbering.

The second area is the concept of using different colors on the same board. We've seen this sort of thing with Picross 3D: Round 2 on the 3DS, but instead of different colors in Depixtion, you fill in squares with either a lighter shade or darker shade of the chosen color. For example, one line in an 8x8 grid may display two light cells, four dark cells, and two light cells. Like Jupiter's creation on Nintendo's last handheld, this forces you to think differently about the puzzles and helps you envision the final image.

The last change is the idea of layering. Each puzzle isn't just one puzzle but three of them put together. The idea is that each layer contains one color of the RGB spectrum, so the final image is more colorful than expected. In practice, you won't pay attention to the color changes, but it can make some puzzles easier to figure out once you know one of the patterns in the layer. The good news is that you aren't locked to one layer, so you can swap between each layer until it's complete.

The changes aren't monumental by any means, but the puzzles remain fun and challenging while creating some nice-looking images. The controls are fine, with the standard buttons and d-pad or analog stick, but those used to the 3DS incarnations of such games will lament the lack of a touch-screen. Depixtion compensates by letting you hold down a button and moving in one direction to paint the subsequent squares, so you don't need to tap each square. The game doesn't penalize you for filling in the wrong color in a spot, so those who get troubled by the time penalties in other games will find this to be a more relaxing experience.

If there is one knock against Depixtion, it would be with the level count, which tops out at 96 (excluding the tutorial). Due to three layers per level, you could consider this to be 288 levels, but compared to the level counts in similar titles, that's still on the low end. The shading mechanic adds enough here to make the puzzles a touch more difficult than normal Picross, so you don't have the sense that you're being shortchanged.

Presentation is never a big part of puzzle games, and this title doesn't try to do anything radical in this area. The grid is presented cleanly, but the smaller squares for the larger grids can be difficult to see in both docked and portable modes, since the title features no zoom function. The backgrounds are a mix of colors that don't distract since they lack animation, but you'll barely pay attention to them. The music is relaxing enough, but you'll also forget about it after a while.

Depixtion is the nice middle ground between the simple Picross games and the more complicated ones that try to throw different genres into the mix. Veteran Picross players should be able to quickly pick up the concept of using different shades of color and different color layers, and it won't be too daunting for newcomers either. The puzzle selection in Depixtion can seem low compared to its contemporaries, but it will take some time to get through them all due to their layout. Overall, Depixtion is a solid puzzle game that fans will appreciate having in their libraries.

Score: 7.0/10

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