Developer: Casual Labs
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad3, iPhone5

Graphics/Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Paint it Back, by Casual Labs, is clever, unique, and brain-boosting. 140 logic puzzles, known as nonograms, Picross, or griddlers, provide hours of entertainment. Game settings allow for up to six individual player profiles on one device, so get the whole family playing! And with iCloud syncing, players can pick up their paintbrush on any iOS device without missing a square.

photo-1Can anyone paint it back? Players must advance through the gallery’s rooms to “repaint” the works of art gone missing. Start at the Training Hall; in this studio players learn how to paint the squares based on the numbers in the rows and columns. Paint only what is true – there can be no guessing or all that hard work will be for naught. Be sure to use the X button to mark off spaces that won’t be needing paint. This becomes especially important as the canvas squares multiply to anywhere from 5×5 to 40×24.

Each row or column contains a number. One number indicates the amount of connected squares to be painted. More than one number indicates connected squares separated by spaces (no rule for how many). For example, a 3 5 3 1 means the row consists of 3 connected squares, space(s), 5 connected squares, space(s), 3 connected squares, space(s), 1 square. The puzzles begin with simple one number rows and columns, then progress to head-scratching, eye-squinting challenges.

As the black game squares are painted in, the easel in the top left corner displays the actual colored masterpiece being recreated. The paintings are no run-of-the-mill bowls of fruit or flowers in the meadow scenes. No, players are tantalized with titles such as “Don’t Shake Hands with a Polar Bear” or “Conjoined Twins in a Turtleneck.”

photoThe larger canvases allow for two choices – normal or pro. Normal divides the painting into quadrants that can be attacked one at a time. Pro shows the entire canvas at once, as miniscule as need be for it to fit to the screen. Completing a regular painting earns one ribbon, while completing a pro canvas earns two. Earn ribbons to unlock new rooms – Big Time Bugs requires 25, for example – and earn 70 ribbons to unlock the “endless” Mystery Masterpiece room. No title. No canvas. No help. Bring it on!

There should be no problem earning ribbons once the game gets rolling. It’s an extremely addicting app for those who enjoy brain-busting puzzles. The engagement factor is a definite plus. It can also be a negative, since it’s sure to drag dedicated solvers into a deep, time-absorbing black hole. Wait, what time is it? I missed dinner and breakfast? It’s hard to put this one down. Unless players aren’t okay with slow-paced, stick-with-it-until-it’s-solved, repetitive puzzles. There are no timed contests, no player vs. player challenges, and no social aspects. Still, who needs all that in every game? This app pleasurably exercises the brain; that’s reward and challenge enough for many. Puzzlers will be drawn in.


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