Overall Score 64%
This offering from Enigma Games is a simplistic and somewhat fun jigsaw puzzle game that can be enjoyed over a cup of coffee. It plays using mouse input only (presumably so that you can hold your cup in your non-mouse hand), and is about as casual as casual games can get.
The beauty of jigsaw puzzle games for the computer is that you're never looking for that last piece under the rug or behind the sofa. However, there are limitations in regards to size and scale of the puzzle being played on a computer monitor. Some programs that I have seen allow for trays to be created and pieces to be placed in these trays which can then be minimised to get them out of the way. Some allow for a zooming in and out of the puzzle area, which is great for realism, but can get frustrating after a while. Solved! gets around this limitation by keeping the puzzles extremely simple. Of the 40 puzzles on offer, 20 of them have a mere 20 pieces each, and can be solved in just a couple of minutes. Even the largest puzzles on offer are only 63 pieces in size, and should only take 5 to 10 minutes for somebody who is even remotely comfortable with jigsaws.
The interface is kept clean by displaying only one piece at a time at the bottom of the screen. There are buttons that will rotate the current piece or others that will cycle through the previous and next pieces. The puzzles are solved by simply rotating the piece to its correct orientation, and dragging the piece onto the grid in the middle of the screen. Left clicking on the correct grid co-ordinate whilst the correct piece is displayed at the bottom of the screen is an alternate (and I found more effective) method of placing the piece. And that's about it, really.
Challenge mode entails solving the puzzle under a bit of pressure from both a countdown timer and also a points system. At the start of the puzzle the player has a certain amount of points that increase when a puzzle piece is placed correctly, and decrease quite drastically when a mistake is made. If either the countdown timer or your points reach zero, it's time to restart the puzzle. The game tracks which puzzles have been completed in challenge mode, and the player can start from any available puzzle, solved or unsolved.
The subject matter for the jigsaws is well chosen, with some famous buildings, space scenes, animals, artwork and nature themed puzzles to solve. The interface is easy to navigate, and options are present to choose music tracks, mute sound, run the game full-screen or in a window. There are only 3 music tracks available, but they are very good, relaxing and also in good fitting with the game.
In terms of criticism, I see Solved! failing in a number of key areas. Lack of content is the one that hurts its score the most. Most players will knock the 40 puzzles over in an afternoon or two, and incredibly, there is no feature to allow the user to add new puzzles by importing images into the game. As of the time of writing this review, there were no other puzzle packs available to buy on the developers website. Not being able to see all available pieces is obviously a design feature of the game, but it is frustrating having to scroll though 25 pieces to get to that corner piece you were looking for. Most importantly, at $20 I think that this game is pricing itself out of the market. There are similarly priced jigsaw puzzle games on the market that boast far more features and customisability (as an example take a look at David P. Gray's excellent "Jigsaws Galore" of which I own two copies). There are even quite a few good freeware jigsaw games out there and my opinion is that if you are going to charge for one, the key is that it needs to be able to be customised to the end users' tastes.
Solved! does what it does very well, and presents quite professionally, but the lack of content in terms of both quantity of puzzles and gameplay options will see you looking for something else before too long.
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