Tents and Trees Review – Review
You know that new Picross-like game you’re looking for? Well, listen to this.
I have reviewed a lot of Picross games over the years. I’d call it one of my favorite types of games or puzzles, with its thoughtful logical design and ability to be both relaxing and mentally taxing. I knew nothing about Tents and Trees going into playing this game on Switch. Apparently this is a type of puzzle I didn’t previously know about, but the basics of it evoke the nonogram stylings of Picross. It scratches a slightly different itch, though, and thanks to a delightful presentation and an incredible amount of puzzles, Tents and Trees is incredible.
Every puzzle is a grid, starting from 6-by-6 and going all the way up to 19-by-19 (and maybe beyond in daily puzzles). Trees are peppered throughout and your task is to place tents throughout the grid so every tent only touches one tree while the tent is not touching another tent. Like Picross, each row and column has a number that represents how many tents will go in each one. It took a little for me to wrap my head around the particulars, but once it clicked, I was engrossed. The puzzles are designed to only have one solution and if you hit any brick walls, a solid hint system can help you along. You can even save state your puzzles, both to come back to later and also revert to that save state if you make a huge mistake. My only tiny complaint is that the initial setup for every puzzle starts to get a little bit workmanlike as you figure out the tricks and intricacies of the puzzles. It gets a little rote over time to laboriously check off all the diagonals (this will make sense when you get into the game) to start off every puzzle. Especially since the game lets you auto-complete rows, part of me wishes they also automated more of the mechanical aspects of solving puzzles.
The chill presentation belies how deadly some of the later game puzzles can get, especially when you start introducing columns and rows missing numbers. The serene interface is made even better by both touch and button controls that work well and can be swapped on the fly. It’s hard to accurately communicate just how good everything about this feels to interact with. Different themes and music tracks unlock as you play puzzles, too. An achievement system and a handful of daily puzzles deepen the base game, which already has more than 500 puzzles to begin with. On top of all that, you can even mess around with solving puzzles communally thanks to a four-player local co-op mode.
If you’re looking for more Picross on Switch that’s more than just your standard issue Jupiter releases, Tents & Trees is amazing, making for a novel twist on a logic puzzle game staple. With the excellent style and the ample daily puzzles, this is one I’ll be revisiting for a long time.