Picross Makeout League tests your love of picross through puzzle-themed dates.
Picross Makeout League is a short visual novel about a group of superheroes called the Puzzle League, who are all themed after various kinds of puzzles. You play as Picross Girl, whose superpower is to be really good at picross, a puzzle in which you follow a numbered guide to make rudimentary pictures on a grid. Picross Girl sees picross puzzles everywhere, and you, the player, are tasked with solving them. Her teammates are basically the personification of different kinds of puzzles: Crossword is constantly giving you crossword clues, Chess is obsessed with black and white thinking, Piecea is an actual puzzle piece, and Sudoku is pretty unforgiving. The plot is not fully developed in this demo, leaving you on a cliffhanger as Picross Girl is kidnapped, but you do get to go on dates with some of your teammates.
While it might sound boring at face value, Picross Makeout League is an unexpectedly funny affair. Here’s the very first puzzle you solve, based on what Picross Girl sees as she is kidnapped and blindfolded:
After being introduced to the team, the player selects a character for Picross Girl to go on a date with. Only your teammates Crossword and Chess have full dates in this version of the game, but the whole cast has distinct personalities, and you’ll get a chance to spend some time with each of them. While I wish I could have dated Piecea, the anthropomorphized puzzle piece, I did love my date with Chess, who ranted and raved about conspiracy theories and chess puzzles. At one point he says that he needs to be five, ten or even 500 moves ahead of his enemy and Picross Girl asks, “Can you play 500 moves ahead in chess?” Her date answers, “If you are both really bad, then yes.”
If you don’t really get or like picross puzzles, the game lets you skip through them using the fast forward button, but it’s more fun to play through the puzzles during your dates and elsewhere. While you’re out with someone, the puzzles are all themed to the date at hand—Chess’s picross are all chess pieces, Crossword takes you to an art gallery where you solve art-themed picross. I’m not very good at picross, but I was able to guess my way through the harder puzzles.
If you love picross a lot, Picross Makeout League is worth a try. Even if you don’t, it’s funny writing makes for a good diversion. Grab it for free on itch.io.