Lightwood Games have been creating puzzlers based on tried and true formulas for a few years now and here is their latest noodle-scratching experiment. So, grab a cup of tea and your favourite biscuit and let's help Phil fill out some pics.
Fill-a-Pix is an interesting premise for a puzzle game as its gameplay is kind of crossed between Sudoku, Picross, and Minesweeper. Basically, you pan around a large puzzle while trying to fill out as many pixels as you can. The numbers that are scattered about represent how many pixels within a 3-by-3 grid are filled in with the number in the centre. Therefore, if you see any 9s then you can safely fill it and all of its surrounding pixels in. Obviously, this applies to 0s as well as you can mark that none of those pixels will be filled in. You can choose to either play by filling in pixels one at a time or 9 at a time and there really isn't any reason to choose the former since it doesn't add any challenge; it just makes things a bit more tedious. Anyway, as you carefully scan over the puzzle while gradually filling in whatever you can by using basic deduction skills, it's satisfying to see the detailed picture that emerges.
The story of Phil's Epic Adventure (yes, there is a story) is that Phil traveled the world and wants to show us his pictures. However, he bought a not-so-instant camera from Japan that requires us to solve puzzles in order to see them in all their pixelated glory. I must admit, this story premise is delightfully charming and I like watching Phil snack on a biscuit as he sips a cup of tea. The pictures themselves are of various landmarks from Japan, France, Russia, Italy, Australia, Las Vegas, Mexico, African Safari, Egypt, China, Canada, and England. Plus, there will be DLC packs later on in the eShop that you can purchase. Considering the puzzles take such a long time to beat, the fact that there are so many is just awesome. In fact, I can't even imagine how long it would take to beat every single one of them.
Fill-a-Pix: Phil's Epic Adventure allows you to take your time as you solve the puzzles so if you're more inclined to play a pressure-free puzzler then this is a game for you. However, if you're looking for a challenge then you may be disappointed by the almost complete lack of difficulty featured here. I wish there were difficulty settings that implemented restrictions such as time constraints, etc. As it is, you can leisurely play through and solve each puzzle in as much time as you want. On top of that, there's a hint system that you can take advantage of whenever you want that basically highlights a potential next move. It's extremely tempting to constantly use it because nothing is more tedious than scrolling through a massive puzzle over and over while manually searching for your next move.
Finally, another aspect that Phil's Epic Fill-a-Pix Adventure could have improved is to provide some sort of replay value. Right now, all you can do is replay puzzles in order to beat your best times. If there were a set of challenges for each puzzle then that would have added a ton of replay incentives and also would've made up for the almost complete lack of difficulty.
If you're looking for a casual puzzler that you can take on the go then Fill-a-Pix: Phil's Epic Adventure is worth checking out. Just make sure that you won't be disappointed by the casual easygoing experience before asking Phil to pour you a hot cup of tea.
- + Simple picture-making puzzle gameplay that anyone can easily learn
- + Charming premise and lots of pictures
- + You can solve puzzles at your own pace
- - Little replay value except retrying puzzles again to beat your previous times
- - Doesn't present much of a challenge
- - Hints are tempting with no penalty