Paint It Back is a comfortable, casual and completely new puzzle game. It’s set in an artsy 8-bit world where desperate artists have lost all their work. Your job is to help them recover their pieces. It’s simple, but brilliant.
Do you know who Howard Garns is? I assume not, but truthfully, there is really no shame in that. Howard Garns is often suspected to be the original inventor of the modern Sudoku. He was an architect and freelance puzzle creator for newspapers. When you think about the inventor of such mathematical principles as – for instance – Sudoku, don’t you just think that creating something like this out of nothing has a flair of genius?
So what does all of this have to do with a game review of a small Steam game? Well, somebody over at Casual Labs – this game’s developer – has done exactly the same thing. Somebody has invented a completely new puzzle principle that seems endless in its possibilities, is fun and challenges your brain cells.
Let me explain the principle: You have a grid of white squares. Next to the lines and columns of that grid are numbers which tell you how many of the squares in that particular row or column need to be painted. The clue is that you have to apply fancy logic and rationale to know where exactly the squares are that need to be painted. A flair of genius.
The story in this game is … well, there. This kind of puzzle doesn’t really need a story to work, it would even work as black lines on a white background, nothing else and frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if we would see riddles exactly like this in newspapers or puzzle books soon – without the story. A game without some nice little graphics, a story, a goal and a sense of purpose are hard to market on Steam though. You need something to show in your screenshots and trailer. For being a necessary evil in this game, the choices made when deciding on a storyline for the game is pretty solid. Even if you don’t ever have the feeling that you are actually restoring lost paintings while solving the riddles, it works as an overall concept of modelling a framework to support the drive of the game.
There are few downsides to Paint It Back. These few are very real though. First and foremost: The soundtrack. It’s a mellow, sleep inducing soundtrack, that actually fits quite well. If you hear the same (I believe not more than 4) songs over and over again though, it drives you insane, here is a hint from me: While playing this, turn the game volume off and put your own music on. You’re welcome. The other downside is that I have the feeling that this game, at certain points, tries to pretend to be things it is not. It isn’t a game about art. Even the fact that they chose PC as the platform to release on, is a bit weird. This would be perfect as a mobile game, I would appreciate this game so much on my way to work. On the other hand: You can’t really charge eight Euros for a mobile game like this, which is precisely my next point. Yes, I’m sticking with it, this game is so innovative, it definitely has a flair of genius, but for what the customer actually gets, eight Euros just seems overpriced.
At this point I usually compare the game I’m reviewing to other games, which is really hard to do if I am dealing with something as unique and new as Paint It Back. There is one though: Minesweeper. Numbers that give you hints on whether or not to click a particular square in a grid, yes, it’s all there, I guess you could actually compare it to Minesweeper a fair bit.
I would say yes, you should check the game out in the Steam store and if you like what you see, then by all means, go for it.
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