Gameplay: Connect neighborhoods with shopping centers, workplaces, and other destinations to keep traffic moving on your highway network.
How is it?: I've platinumed the predecessor to this game, Mini Metro, despite the devs constantly trying to take that away from me by issuing new levels six years after release. It's not an exaggeration to call Mini Metro an all-time classic, turning the iconic art of subway maps into a satisfying game of transportation line management combining long-term planning with rapid responsiveness and thinking on your feet.
This doesn't measure up, and it's primarily because, bluntly, the flow of traffic cheats. Locations seem to spawn their own artificial "demand" for motorists independent of your population, and you can lose through no fault of your own just because the map hasn't spawned enough of the right type of houses. In one game, I had a direct expressway connecting the only neighborhood in one category right to the doorstep of its only matching destination, and the destination still timed out. There was literally nothing I could do.
The game design is also littered with careless, aggravating dead ends, like the traffic lights that are utterly useless or the houses that spawn in the stupidest, most wasteful locations and orientations or the roundabouts that facilitate traffic flow in a way that real roundabouts don't but that require room you'll never have in the busy locations where they could actually help. It's just not as smart or tightly-designed as its predecessor - or as successful puzzle games in general, for that matter. It looks purty, but avoid.
Gameplay: Connect tiles of the same color to form crosses on a 6x6 grid by shifting entire rows & columns.
How is it?: It has a heavy 2000s-era Lumines vibe with its clean interface and photorealistic backgrounds, which I dig, and the gameplay isn't bad, either. I just wish there were more single-player content: more modes, more unlockable BGM tracks, more colors for the tiles. The special-ability tiles are reserved for local multiplayer only, and the Coloris-style shifting tile graphics appear only in an aimless scoreless mode. The game could use more than one background, too. And you can't play against an AI. This isn't a bad diversion for a couple hours, and I appreciate the effort, but both the presentation and the gameplay could use further exploration.
(That said: I suspected, given the polish in what is present, that the missing content was due to a lack of manpower and possibly a solo dev, and an AMA proves that hunch correct. Here's hoping that the dev gets the funding for an update or sequel with that story mode and single-player versus.)
Gameplay: Connect matching numbers on a Picross grid using lines composed of the same number of squares to form nonogram art.
How is it?: The puzzles are huge, colorful, and well-drawn, and you get a ton of them, particularly for the price. If you like illustration-based number logic puzzles but want a variant from Picross, you won't go wrong with this. The only problem: a couple pages in, the puzzles start taking 45+ minutes to complete. Not great for those of us looking for just a quick puzzle hit. (But there are DLC packs of shorter puzzles to fix that problem.)
Dark Fantasy Jigsaw Puzzle
Gameplay: Connect jigsaw puzzle pieces to reveal van art breasts.
How is it?: This is a jigsaw game for people who just want to kind of half-ass playing a jigsaw game. You see the art blurrily beneath the assembly field and can just sort of drop a piece in the general vicinity of its spot to fit it in. Look, intellectual rigor is not exactly this title's selling point:
Well, that's not a screenshot. Actually, I didn't take many screenshots, because I found out soon after purchasing that all the art is just available as .pngs in the game's steamapps folder. And, actually, that shot's misleading, as most of the women aren't as tastefully clothed as female Julious up there. Here's the only screenshot I bothered to take, of the last puzzle, which is more representative of the title:
All right, not all of it is that far, either. Split the difference between the two, weighted toward the latter example. I don't know exactly why I purchased this, jokes about my own potential obliviousness aside. Some things are mysteries. It's not the sort of purchase I can recommend, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I didn't have a bad time with it. If you're in the mood for this type of art, you might want to hit up the artist's page. (Also, since commission pricing has been a hot topic around here, those commission tiers are eminently reasonable given the work involved.)