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Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons (NS)

Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons (NS) - Review

by Evan Norris , posted on 27 February 2024 / 1,753 Views

Developer Score Studios has targeted a very specific demographic with its latest title, Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons. A puzzle game infused with the trappings of the life/farming sim Story of Seasons, it's designed to appeal to nonogram enthusiasts and, at the same time, fans of the pastoral peacefulness of the long-running simulation series. If you happen to operate in the middle ground of this unlikely Venn diagram, consider this puzzler right up your alley.

Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons is all about nonograms. Also known as Picross or Paint by Numbers, nonograms are grid-based logic puzzles in which each cell on the grid is filled in or left blank, resulting in a revealed hidden image. Each row and column on the grid displays a set of numbers, which provides clues to how many cells should be marked, and how many empty spaces should remain between sets of marked cells. For example, a prompt of 2 1 6 indicates a set of two filled cells, a set of one filled cell, and a set of six filled cells, all separated by at least one empty cell. By cross-referencing each column and row clue, you'll be able to fill in the entire grid. 

Fans of logic puzzles in general, and games like Sudoku and Minesweeper in particular, should enjoy these nonograms. It's satisfying to piece together the clues, identify the logical connections, chip away at the grid, and, eventually, reveal the image hidden behind the numbers. Even those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with nonogram puzzles will find a path forward, thanks to an opening tutorial video and a suite of accessibility options. These include "autocorrect", which fixes mistakenly-placed blocks; "hints", which show which rows and columns have moves you can deduce; and "autofill complete", which automatically marks empty boxes with Xs, when all clues are completed in a given row or column.

While Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons boasts plenty of options, it doesn't have much mechanical variety. The rules and parameters for the very first puzzle are the same for the 100th. Once you've played 10 or 20 nonograms, you've basically experienced everything the game has to offer from a gameplay perspective. Now, Score Studios does make up for this partially through sheer volume. The game includes over 300 puzzles, which is incredibly generous; you'll need many hours to finish them all. There are also achievements and local rankings to keep you busy. Despite all this, a sensation of "been there, done that" hangs over the game.

Luckily, there's more to this latest Piczle Cross entry than just logic puzzles. It also includes the settings, characters, and accouterments of the Story of Seasons franchise — formerly known as Harvest Moon. These appear in several forms. First, the backdrop of the entire game is a 3D farm. As you clear puzzles, the "days" will march forward, eventually introducing new seasons. As this happens, the farm will grow and new crops & livestock will appear. It's a neat little feature, although regrettably not interactive.

Second, and most importantly, each nonogram image is based on a classic Story of Seasons item or character. As you progress through the game, you'll reveal dozens of tools, crops, animals, villagers, bachelors, and bachelorettes. In some instances, you'll also unlock an entry in the Almanac, a 100-plus page encyclopedia with images and descriptions of important figures from previous franchise installments, including Pioneers of Olive Town and A Wonderful Life.

Together, these pieces are a great gift to Story of Seasons superfans. It's just too bad the mechanics and structure of the life/farming sim didn't penetrate the puzzling gameplay of Piczle Cross more thoroughly. Perhaps Score Studios could have introduced a few friendship, courtship, and economic elements, however cursory, to add variety to the proceedings. The developer did add special collages based on seasonal festivals from Story of Seasons, but they're just larger multi-part puzzles. 

On the visual front, Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons is hit-or-miss. The concept art in the Almanac is absolutely stunning, but the 3D background farm suffers somewhat from low resolution and saturated colors. As for the puzzles themselves, well, it depends. Some designs are immediately recognizable. Others are only vague approximations of the genuine article. Don't be surprised to utter "oh, that's what that was?" more than a few times. The game's music, torn directly from the Story of Seasons archives, fares better. I could listen to "Breezy" for the rest of my life and never get bored.

Nonograms and farm life don't necessarily belong together, but developer Score Studios has made it work, more or less, in Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons. The game features hundreds of logic puzzles to enjoy, alongside several accessibility options to make them as approachable and understandable as possible. What's more, everything benefits from the cozy personality of Story of Seasons, even if that personality is applied only on superficial levels. With cleaner visuals and greater gameplay depth and diversity — including mechanics borrowed from the farming sim genre — it could be even better. 


VGChartz Verdict


6
Decent

This review is based on a digital copy of Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons for the NS, provided by the publisher.

Read more about our Review Methodology here

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3 Comments
hellobion2 (on 27 February 2024)

Finally a picross review on VGchartz!

  • +3
drbunnig (on 28 February 2024)

I loved Piczle Cross Adventure (from the same company), so I may look into this. Thanks for reviewing and bringing this game back to my attention.

  • +2
Darwinianevolution (on 27 February 2024)

I'm surprised not that many companies have made Picross spinoffs of their series.

  • 0