Puzzling Pixel Portraits
In this modern age of reboots, pre-boots and sequels, nothing is safe from the fate of hastily thrown together installments to a successful IP. And mobile games are no exception. Enter, Puzzrama, the sleeper hit from the humble devs at Translimit. Puzzrama released late last year and currently stands at over a million downloads. It felt original in both conceit and design. Its sequel Puzzrama Pixel, however… does not.
Puzzrama Pixel’s predecessor made several interesting choices that its successor fails to replicate. The concept is simple enough. Each level is the stage of a diorama, and every object that makes up the set piece must be individually assembled piece by piece. With only the object’s silhouette as a guide, the player has to work out which pieces go where. Assemble every object, and the player can marvel as the diorama comes to life as a fully-animated 3D set piece! Dragons breathe fire, people burst into dance, and sunbeams shimmer as ice cream melts placidly down its cone. Puzzrama does a fine job of giving the player that feeling of satisfaction for a job well done.
Its sequel on the other hand is a lesson in disappointment. As its title suggests, Puzzrama Pixel ditches the eye-popping 3D aesthetic in favor of plain, easy pixel art dioramas. What’s worse, the animations upon completion are nearly nonexistent in this half-baked scant sequel. To top all this off, they didn’t bother to implement roughly half of the original title’s features. In the original Puzzrama, there was functionality to not only craft your own objects and dioramas, but also upload your custom levels publicly for other players. You could even enter your custom dioramas into contests to compete with players across the world. Comparatively, Puzzrama Pixel appears to be nothing more than the empty silhouettes it tasks you with assembling.
Of course, the heart of the issue is that when the spectacle is stripped away, you’re made painfully aware of how devoid of challenge this supposed puzzle game really is. There’s so much room for this concept of filling in silhouettes to really shine. But, unfortunately, Translimit isn’t interested in pushing Puzzrama Pixel’s limits. The lack of creativity is painfully evident. One particular puzzle is just placing penguins in penguin-sized silhouettes. The bar couldn’t be lower, and yet when you complete the puzzle, they refuse to jump.
In summation, Puzzrama Pixel is another victim of the asinine practice of capitalizing on anything moderately successful and squeezing every last drop of value from it to the point of strangulation — a practice that all too often forgets everything that made it endearing in an effort to cut costs and accelerate production. In these exhausting times, I have enough plagues to worry about without adding sequelitis to the list.
Is It Hardcore?
It's just a harcore disappointment.
Puzzrama Pixel is the sequel no one asked for that ends up feeling like a generic brand knock-off rather than a legitimate successor. The pixel art is admittedly very cute, but at the cost of nearly all substance.