"Who knew Picross was so old!"
If you were to check Wikipedia and its sources, you'd find that the history of nonograms (you know, those "Find the hidden picture" grid puzzles made popular in games like Picross) only goes back to the late 1980s, when a Japanese graphic editor won a competition with grid pictures made by using skyscraper lights.
But if World Mosaics is to be believed, then nonograms go as far back as the ancient Pelasgians, the mysterious sea people whose influence stretched from the Aztecs all the way to Japan. Not much is known about them, but clues to this enigmatic civilization can be found in the form of strange grid puzzles littered throughout the world that once solved reveal an informative image.
So, put simply, World Mosaics is Picross for your iPod / iPhone / iPad / iWhatever, but with an archeological adventure aesthetic. That's all you really need to know about it, but since this review ought to inform you about whether or not this game is worth your time, I guess I need to go on a little more. Let's get to that then, shall we?
The search for the Pelasgians takes place over ninety nonograms for you to test your logical mettle with, and these are spread across eight puzzle sets based off old-world cultures. The first couple of puzzles come with a quick but useful tutorial that was able to get me up to speed and clear puzzles with relative ease (I had never tried a nonogram prior). For those who don't know, each puzzle has numbers placed outside the grid, and these provide clues as to which squares in which rows (both vertical and horizontal) need to be filled. Puzzles start off on 5 X 5 grids but then expand to 10 X 10 and even larger grids, going from condescendingly easy to decently challenging. The game also adds some peril to the gameplay by allowing you to make a certain number of mistakes before forcing you to start the puzzle all over again. Outside of the hunt for the Pelasgians, World Mosaics offers eight extra sets of puzzles based off such irrelevant themes as food, electronic devices, and emotions. In total, you have nearly two hundred nonograms. Not a bad number, I must say.
Controls work rather well in this game. The setup is simple: a control pad and two marker icons (one to mark the spaces you're supposed to mark, the other for the empty spaces between those), and the ability to touch any square on the grid to go to it directly. Like I said before, the controls are responsive, and there is no lag between input and reaction. The only frustration I found is with the positioning of the control pad buttons, which are a tad close to each other, meaning that those with less-than-small fingers (like myself) will, at least once, hit the wrong button.
Here's a scenario that happened to me often: my deductive skills have revealed a row of squares that can be marked. I then press up on the control pad while holding the appropriate marker button. Suddenly, my finger strays but a little, and I tap left. A high-pitched noise alerts me to the fact that I just made placed the wrong mark where I shouldn't have, and the gauge that shows how many mistakes I've made fills up a little more. More than once I found myself shaking my fist at my iPod due to this. On the other hand, it occasionally resulted in me filling a space I was unsure about prior and helping me fill up the grid faster, which makes the lazy part of me that likes to get the puzzles done with as little effort as possible, happy.
All in all, whether you enjoy World Mosaics or not depends on how much fun you get out of the nonograms this game has to offer. While the puzzles get tricky every now and then, they are never so challenging that you'll be forced to throw up your arms in frustration. For a first-timer to the world of nonograms, World Mosaics made for a good introduction.
GameDynamo's Score for World Mosaics (Mobile)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
[View World Mosaics images / screenshots +]
[Watch World Mosaics videos / trailers +]
[View more World Mosaics articles (news, previews, reviews) +]
[View World Mosaics cheats / guides +]
More from GameDynamo