Puzzle Showdown 4K developed by Kingdom Games (the devs behind the “Five” series on Steam) and published by 70 Times 7 LLC is a jigsaw based puzzle game that is available both on the Playstation store and Steam. I must admit that when I was asked to review a jigsaw game I really thought it was going to be some horror/survival type featuring the well known doll from the Saw series. How wrong was I!! Instead of blood and all manners of fiendish traps I was faced with a family friendly jigsaw puzzle based game in which I am to try and piece together aesthetically pleasing 4K wallpapers on my screen.
Ok, so my first reaction as I sit infront of the PS4 Pro is “really?” I remember playing similar games in the past on a Nintendo DS and that was only when I was really bored. Casting my memories aside I began to tackle a single player game, selecting one of the 100+ 4K jigsaw puzzles. I kept the puzzle size to 28 pieces and instantly the ghost image of a coastal scene appears on the screen and away I go trying to find which of the 3 selectable pieces I could position first. The controls actually aren’t too bad as you manoeuvre your piece across the puzzle in a grid like manner. As I use all my expertise of days gone by to correctly position my first piece I am rewarded with encouragement and points as the speed of deployment is recognised. “Hmmm, this isn’t too bad” I say to myself quietly as to not give my emotions away that I am slightly beginning to enjoy the game.
As I proceed to get faster and faster at deploying my puzzle pieces across the screen, further rewards for accuracy and speed flash up, increasing my score nicely. Being 28 pieces the puzzle is completed within a minute and I sit pleased with myself that I have scored highly. My wife notices the game and asks for a turn. “Have fun trying to beat me.” I confidently say. Within less than a minute my wife passes me back the controller and points to her score. Yes she thrashed me. Not happy with the result and the competition rising between us I pass her the second controller and enter multiplayer mode.
Upto 4 players can locally take part in Puzzle Showdown 4K and with the options to increase the number of puzzle pieces in stages to 510, you can make the challenge as hard and prolonged as you wish. Scoring can be turned on and off allowing you all to play casually if you so wish (no!) and also for those that require extra help a hint system turns the puzzle piece red when it is located in the correct place (a little bit cheaty!). The ability to rotate the pieces is also one that you can experiment with but bewarned, some of the puzzles such as a starry night sky can be pretty savage to line pieces up to even when they are already the correct orientation! If you really want to test yourself and others then you can also turn off the jigsaw puzzle image so that you cannot see where to place your puzzle piece.
Ok so game face on and I allow wifey to select the puzzle image. She goes straight for the starry night sky at 60 pieces, looks at me and smiles. 3,2,1 and we are off. Puzzle pieces fly across the screen as we compete head to head to be the first to successfully deploy their jigsaw parts. Accuracy streaks and points for strategic placement thunder across the screen as I am hoping that I get the most corners and straight edge pieces to gain the advantage by not wasting too much time to find where they go. The tension is high as the jigsaw nears completion, I’m pretty sure that I have been smashing the puzzle pieces out as my thumbs feel a warm glow on the sticks below them. “Puzzle Complete!” appears and I am stunned to see that my wife has completely whooped me by 400 points. To further rub salt into the wound she then tells me that she achieved all this while having a braxton hicks contraction! Despite the defeat, the head to head was actually quite fun!
The jigsaw scenes themselves look great on a 4k tv, so much so that the devs have included a showcase feature whereby you can allow the images to rotate like a screensaver. I’m unsure who would actually crank their PS4 up to use it in that manner however it is a good way to see all of the available puzzles full screen.
The area surrounding the jigsaw shows you your current 3 selectable puzzle pieces, score and number of pieces played however you havent really got time to pay much attention to the numbers during the actual game.
To try and distract you further there is a crafty animation of falling jigsaw pieces ghosting behind the puzzle and screen information. Although off-putting at times, this is far from the tetris games of the 90s that used to feature psychedelic brain altering imagery that would leave you foaming at the mouth.
Boasting with 5 hours of music ranging from electronic, classical and acoustic, the ambient themes play nicely in the background while attempting to set a new high-score. The music can also be turned off, and using the Playstation’s Spotify app replaced with 90s rave music from your playlist.
With over 100 puzzles to choose from and different game configurations such as number of pieces, the ability to rotate and game mode (casual or scoring) Puzzle Showdown 4K can take as much or as little time as you want to play through. The multiplayer option offers family friendly competition together on the sofa while solo mode lets you sit back and chill so that you can take it all in.
Ok so Puzzle Showdown 4K isn’t anything like getting a real jigsaw out on the table to firstly find all the corners and then all the edges to build the frame however it does offer convenience and no lost pieces! It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea however if you enjoy playing puzzle games either with or without friends then this is definitely worth a look.
I award Puzzle Showdown 4K a Thumb Culture Silver Thumbs Up with 7/10.