(No gameplay for this one- I was feeling very unwell and needed something easygoing to do with my brain aside from feel sorry for myself.)
I would have loved to be in the room when this was pitched. Actually, it was probably pitched in a bar. At around 2am, after the Phoenix Wright team bumped into the Picross team while on a sesh and found out they get along really well.
So, it’s murder mystery, and it’s also picross, and that happened somehow, and it’s really good? There’s lots of questions here, and most of them are “huh?”, but once you push past that, there is so much to love in this bizarre chimera.
That comes with the caveat that you have to be someone who enjoys both kinds of game, and I wonder how much that venn diagram overlaps. But there’s me, slap-bang in the middle of it. I’ve been a picross fan ever since Mario’s Picross on the SNES, and I’ve devoured the Ace Attorney series. In terms of the story, the just-beyond-believeable melodrama is fully intact from AA, although it swaps out the mysticism for scifi- floating robot dude SCOUT finds and identifies clues for the cases, each of which leads to a puzzle.
Fin or Bin:
If there’s a criticism to be made here, it’s that Murder By Numbers isn’t quite enough of either of its forebears. Honor isn’t a lawyer, so the game lacks the courtroom drama and “gotcha!” moments of AA, and the picross puzzles are very well designed but err on the side of easy. Most of them are 10×10, and puzzles that go beyond that size tend to be more basic. Of course, the reason for that is obvious, and it’s easy for a Picross veteran to complain it’s not challenging enough when this might be a newcomer’s first experience with the genre. Either way, it’s a combo of two things I love, and while the flavours don’t go together at all on paper, I’m definitely going to Finish this very strange potluck.