Lightwood games is bringing more logic puzzles to us in the new year, with the release of Link-a-Pix Deluxe. It came out for the Nintendo Switch last week and we’re testing the Vita version – which is a cross-buy purchase that also gets you the PS4 edition.
Most of Lightwood’s games are attached to either the POWGI brand or variation on the “a-Pix” series, of which Pic-a-Pix is the more well-known example. Link-a-Pix obviously falls into that latter category, but takes a different approach to its puzzle than the usual nonograms we find in Pic-a-Pix or Pic-a-Pix Color. The end result of each puzzle, however, is still a pixel art kind of visual – and puzzles come in a variety of sizes.
To solve the grid-based puzzles in Link-a-Pix, you need to join two numbered tiles together by drawing a link between them. This is easy when you’re joining two number 2’s together (they’ll be next to one another), but things get increasingly complex as you encounter higher numbers – strings of more than 10 tiles aren’t uncommon.
To figure out which route to take on these longer strings, you often have to figure out which tiles you can already mark off with other (shorter) strings, and another clue often lies in the fact that certain routes can block off necessary options for strings you still have to make. In those cases, you know you need to find another way, or even another tile with the same number to connect to.
You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the correct placements for the strings that are two to five tiles long, but things get more complex beyond that. A good strategy is often to take care of those shorter strings first, but that can take a while on the larger puzzle. In these, I was spending twenty minutes just marking down obvious strings before I even got a hint of what the end picture was supposed to be like – and it took me over an hour to complete it.
From that perspective, Link-a-Pix offers great value for money. It has 120 puzzles that are in color and there’s a ‘mono’ mode as well – which works the same but is trickier because you don’t have color designations telling you which tile connects to which.
The game is a great time-waster, although that is also its greatest shortcoming in a way. On larger puzzles, you can spend ages mindlessly making connections without having to think logically in order to solve the puzzle – and although the familiar music creates an almost zen-like experience I preferred the smaller puzzles that laid out their challenges to me fairly quickly.