Developer: Cuveet Story
Price: £1.99 / $2.99
Release Date: 17th November 2015
While Cross Set markets itself as a new breed of puzzle game, it is firmly rooted in the Sudoku puzzle sub-genre. Despite some subtle alterations, there’s no denying that the core gameplay boils down to filling the grid with a pre-determined combination of numbers without a single repetition in a column or row. This is no criticism, rather a vital distinction to make for those that despise the particular breed of logic puzzle.
Cross Set may borrow heavily from established ideas but it proves that a little ingenuity can rejuvenate a tired genre. The basic structure of the grid remains but the need to work within 3 x 3 blocks is removed and it’s this sudden freedom that helps strip the familiar routine of Sudoku somewhat. To further guide you, each box contains the possible numbers for that cell, requiring management of potential candidates whilst eliminating repetitions. It’s an inconspicuous shuffle of the rules that ensures you never settle into familiar habits from years of Sudoku.
That’s not to say that Cross Set is immune to being “solved” as a whole. Throughout your progress, the repetitions and patterns become increasingly evident to the point that you’ll likely develop your own method to mindlessly solve the early puzzles with little thought. Thankfully, the latter half of the game expands to larger grids and tougher sequences. It doesn’t take long to advance to these puzzles and the game is generous in unlocking content for those that wish to skip ahead swiftly.
It feels superfluous to discuss the more aesthetic elements of a genre where distractions are your opponent, so it’s unsurprising that Cross Set is minimalist to the point of being forgettable. This is hardly a criticism though, its strength lies in gameplay and any attempt to dazzle would surely detract from the train of thought required to succeed. That said, it would have benefited enormously from alternative colour schemes to reduce the eye fatigue caused by the huge expanse of white on screen at all times.
Cross Set wears its niche appeal with bold pride and while it likely won’t entice newcomers, it settles in a comfortable groove distinctive enough to leave a lasting impression. Its first half leaves a little to be desired, but upon hitting its stride, it more than justifies an incredibly modest price point.