Picross Lord Of The Nazarick (Switch eShop) Review
I watched the trailer for Picross: Lord of the Nazarick about a week before release and got immediately excited. Picross, but with a crazy anime aesthetic and an actual story mode? That’s a concept I was sold on. Also, it’s rated MA15+, and being tired of childish nonsense I was ready for some Picross to cater to my sophisticated over-15 sensibilities. Disappointingly, I got none of this, and instead got a standard Picross game that’s a little heftier than usual making images that I sure know nothing about. And some vague references to violence in a text dialogue.
None of this is necessarily bad though, and in fact, it might be right up your alley. Like Pokemon Picross and Sanrio Picross before it, this is a crossover with popular anime Overlord. All the puzzles are Overlord themed, and as you play you’ll unlock gallery images taken from the show, which I’m sure dedicated fans will appreciate. The puzzles themselves can be hit and miss, as there seems to be a fairly large cast in the show and most of the images are just characters’ faces, which while fun for a non-fan at first becomes a little tedious. Faces in Picross are all somewhat samey, and with lots of diagonal lines and shadows to fill the puzzles are rarely easy. It feels just a little disappointing when you’re struggling with a puzzle only to realise near the end you’re just making another face. Maybe that’s a personal thing, but I get the same feeling when presented with 15 puzzles in a row that are all fruit in regular Picross, and it kills my motivation a little. The nice difficulty curve across your puzzles as they steadily increase in size and complexity is gone here as well, as the puzzles are broken up into character themed sets, with no real structure – the first character set you are given at the beginning of the game starts with a 5×5 and ramps up to 15×20 within 9 puzzles, so if you’re new, you’ll be chopping and changing puzzle sets and breaking up your flow. If you’re experienced, you’ll get whiplash from the random puzzle ordering.
The story is sadly non-existent. The game takes place in the show’s timeline after main character Ainz Ooal Gown establishes his Nation of Darkness with his team in the Tomb of Nazarick. What does any of that mean? You’re not getting it from the game – it tells you that and only that in a cutscene (very exciting to have a cutscene in a Picross game, though) and then promptly suggests that you should assemble these puzzles to piece together your memories of what you did before. There’s no exposition, just solving Picross puzzles and getting various characters and objects presented to you. I decided to watch the show in an attempt to find out what the deal was and thankfully AnimeLab saved me the effort by only having season 2 onwards, so I read a Wiki instead. Apparently, the show is pretty good. You’d definitely want to be a fan to get the most out of the game. I was just left wishing for a more in-depth story presentation that could tell something self-contained and be more accessible on a general level, as Puyo Puyo Tetris did perfectly well a couple of years ago.
So if, like me, you’re just a Picross nerd, is there anything for you here? Well, yeah. Developers Jupiter are the masters of Picross. The crossover can be confronting for non-fans, and the music is anxiety-inducing rather than elevator-music relaxing, but despite my whinging in the first paragraph there are some great puzzles and more importantly, there are a LOT of puzzles. 162 Picross puzzles in fact, with a Mega Picross version of each as well (thankfully optional for gallery completion and largely hidden – Mega Picross is not very good). The fantastic Colour Picross from S3 makes a return with 27 puzzles and it’s still absolutely flawless. Finally, Clip Picross is back in absolutely enormous form with 330 puzzles assembling to make some bigger scenes as a break from the self-contained images. There are actually more puzzles here than Picross S3, which is fantastic for keeping Picross a part of your daily rotation. And no less than 3 months later! This is a release schedule I like.
Ultimately, the question is “should I buy this if I haven’t seen Overlord?” The answer is… it’s complicated. For me, it was definitely less enjoyable than regular Picross and its charm, polish and relaxing atmosphere. Having this many new puzzles is great though, and it’s not as if the actual concept has changed much. If you’re an Overlord fan, you’ll want to be a Picross fan too, as there doesn’t seem to be anything to experience here that’s not already a part of the show, but you’ll be rewarded with some fun themed puzzles. I don’t think I can speak too badly of anything here but if you’re new to both sides of the crossover, go play a different Picross – you’ll find a more pleasant experience there. If a more involved story mode was included, I could easily recommend this to everyone. Sadly, today it’s not the case.
- More colour picross!
- Lots of puzzles
- Overlord fans are probably happy
- Anxiety-inducing background music
- Some repetitive puzzles
- Alienating presentation for Overlord newbies