Nintendo platforms have been great about offering nonogram options. Jupiter has been a constant source of Picross titles, with games like Picross S and the recent Picross: Lord of the Nazarick. But other companies have been offering these sorts of puzzles too, with NanoPiko’s PictoQuest being the latest addition. It also attempts to offer something new by presenting it in a Puzzle Quest sort of format. There’s an actual story and reason for the entire adventure, with players following a duo attempting to restore art and beauty to the world while fighting an evil force destroying the status quo.
Pictoria was a land filled with gorgeous works of art. However, all of it vanished one day when Moonface decided to take every grid as his own, stealing them away to his lair and leaving minions and transformed people to block anyone who would try to take them back. Two heroes set out to right the wrongs, with players choosing between Floh and Arvel, two knights with their own motivations for restoring order. (Floh likes to fight enemies and do well on his first mission ever, while Arvel’s mother was a famous painter whose works were among those stolen.) By providing a backstory for our “avatars” and a reason to complete all of the nonograms, we’re getting a reason to keep moving forward and trying each puzzle.
PictoQuest has all of its puzzles dotted along a world map, complete with fast travel spots that you might pass. Some puzzles involve completing a task to open a chest with a power up inside of it. (These could be potions that restore your health or spells that help you complete a puzzle by temporarily providing a hint as to what you should or shouldn’t do.) The fights against enemies or bosses are essentially timed puzzles, with each line you fill in doing damage against a foe and them occasionally attacking you to whittle down your life. (You have three hearts to start, but can spend coins on more.)
While the threat of enemy attacks could be concerning, PictoQuest does quite a bit to assuage concerns. Items are doled out freely. I found myself with a full bag without ever having to purchase any additional ones from a shop. Sometimes, as you are working on a puzzle, an icon will appear on a line offering you a power up or minor healing if you manage to fill in that particular row. It starts out easy enough, with 5×5 puzzles, and doesn’t start getting into the more difficult larger puzzles until people have found their footing. (Expect to be well into the 15×15 grids once you hit the 15% point.) While someone’s focus should be on the actual puzzle, gauges below enemies let you know when an attack would be coming, to help you brace yourself and know if you should take a moment to draw upon something helpful in your backpack.
For those who are nonogram masters, there are even challenges to appeal to them. At certain spaces on the map, you’ll see what essentially amount to sidequests. These are humans or monsters who want to face off against you on a puzzle you’ve already completed. You’ll then go through that same puzzle, only with a new restriction to make it more difficult. These could be timed, fail you if you make a single mistake or have other rules that make you think even harder as you play.
Nonograms are great. They’re rewarding puzzles that make you feel smart for figuring out the picture hidden in the grid. PictoQuest takes something that is already good and attempts to make it even more inviting to all players by adding in a story, giving people a challenge with enemies to defeat and restrictions to overcome, and also providing items that might help you on your way. It’s a pleasant way to spend a few evenings as you attempt to complete and reclaim every work of art.
PictoQuest is available for the Nintendo Switch.