Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: October 1, 2018
Fill-a-Pix: Phil’s Epic Adventure is a minesweeper and picross logic puzzle game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and Vita. Lightwood Games are specialists in puzzle games involving word searches, picross and more besides. Can Fill-a-Pix: Phil’s Epic Adventure deliver an entertaining minesweeper and picross logic puzzle game?
Gameplay revolves around the premise of a Ringo Starr look-alike named Phil who ventures around the world and the first thing he wants to do now that he is home is to develop his pictures to share his globetrotting experience with his friends. However, the pictures are not quite ready yet and there is where the player comes in as the mixture of minesweeper and picross gameplay elements helps Phil to complete his scrapbook of his epic adventure.
Numbers within a grid are essentially clues that inform the player how many squares in a group of nine should be filled in black with each clue’s group of nine including the clue’s square and the eight squares surrounding the clue. However, squares that are not filled need to have an X placed within them, so that part of the picture remains white. Phil’s photo will be fully developed when every square is filled in black or has an X within it.
The smart cursor provides an assist in filling the remainder of the group of nine squares after the player has correctly filled in the appropriate number of squares, while photos that are completed without using the fix assist will have a gold border around them when added to Phil’s scrapbook.
Following on from the tutorial to prepare the player for how to play picross; there are 100 of Phil’s holiday photographs to develop comprising of world famous landmarks from Japan, France, Russia, Italy, Australia, Las Vegas, Mexico, African Safari, Egypt and England.
Fill-a-Pix: Phil’s Epic Adventure supports cross-buy between the PS4 and Vita, although it unfortunately does not support cross-save, so you will not be able to continue from your previous progression on the Vita version when playing the PS4 version and vice versa. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase.
The controls are appropriately mapped to both the Vita and DualShock 4 controller as the Vita version having a touch screen control scheme for swiping across the puzzle area, while tapping the touch screen once or twice as an alternative to pressing X or O which is usually accurate resulting in a square being filled, although perhaps using the Vita’s multi-touch capacitive screen to zoom in on the play area to make squares larger would have been further beneficial to the accuracy of the touch screen control scheme during gameplay. However, there are other methods of successfully filling squares on Vita and the DualShock 4 controller by pressing X to fill a square with a number; pressing O to fill a square with an X; holding X or O while moving the left analogue stick or pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to quickly fill squares; pressing square to turn smart cursor on or off; pressing L1 and R1 simultaneously to display the nearest available smart cursor move; and pressing triangle to check your progress followed by pressing X to fix incorrectly filled squares. The DualShock 4 controller’s light bar remains a light pink throughout menus and gameplay, while there is no touch pad implementation, despite Vita’s alternative touch screen control scheme, alongside no vibration that could have vibrated to indicate an incorrectly filled square.
Graphically, Fill-a-Pix: Phil’s Epic Adventure is basic as would be expected from a picross puzzle game in the sense of the core graphics involving a white and grey grid containing numbers, although the addition of Phil’s character and a nice background shows some thought has went into brightening up the graphics.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus on Vita such as the main menu, puzzle category menus, options menu and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons on Vita and DualShock 4, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick on either, rear touch pad on Vita or the touch pad on DualShock 4. Menu backgrounds are kept to a minimum such as a leather cover for the photo album on the right and Phil on the left.
Sound effects are reminiscent to that of a typewriter when filling a square, while the instrumental string and piano music is quite uplifting and thought provoking in tone. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced the sound effect upon filling in a square, completing a puzzle or the classical orchestral soundtrack.
The trophy list includes 30 trophies with 11 bronze trophies, 13 silver trophies, 5 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy, while the Vita and PS4 versions have their own individual trophy list resulting in the player earning the same trophies for two separate playthroughs between both platforms. Easier trophies include the Venture Forth bronze trophy for completing the tutorial; the Comfort Stop silver trophy for completing a puzzle after exiting to the photograph menu; and the Retrace Your Steps silver trophy for restarting a puzzle that had already been completed. Harder trophies include the Fast Exposure gold trophy for solving a puzzle in under 5 minutes using only the smart cursor and The Beaten Path gold trophy for revealing 1,000 different moves using show next move. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take around 10 to 15 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although the difficulty curve seemingly depends upon how familiar the player is with the subject matter of the picross puzzles and logic puzzles, while the tutorial will go some way towards making newcomers to picross puzzles and logic puzzles have a better understanding of the gameplay and rules.
Fill-a-Pix: Phil’s Epic Adventure’s replayability stems from 100 picross puzzles featuring world famous landmarks in ten countries and replaying picross puzzles to improve your personal best time. However, unlike Word Search by POWGI; Fill-a-Pix: Phil’s Epic Adventure does not feature local multiplayer on PS4.
- Title: Fill-a-Pix: Phil’s Epic Adventures
- Developer: Lightwood Games
- Publisher: Lightwood Games
- System: PS4/PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: Yes (PS4 and PS Vita)
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1 (PS4 and PS Vita)
- Hard Drive Space Required: 109.5MB/Vita Memory Card Space Required: 93MB