I’m a huge Picross fan; I think it’s one of the best logic puzzles out there. Tents and Trees piqued my interest by taking that classic formula and shaking it up a bit. While playing quite similarly, there are enough differences to fundamentally change the deducing process. But how is it?
Here, instead of drawing pictures, your goal is to place tents next to trees in a grid. Each tree needs one tent next to it, and no two tents can touch. You have numbers across the top and down the left side of the grid, much like Picross, to tell you how many tents need to be in each column and row, respectively. You place tents down and can place grass to mark the squares you’ve deduced tents can’t go; again, much like Picross, where you mark and cross out squares.
Everything’s presented in a minimalistic fashion, with a very clean and aesthetically pleasing look. There are a handful of music tracks available that are both super chill and really catchy. I had one tune stuck in my head for the past few days, though most only get unlocked by clearing a certain amount of puzzles. There are also some themes available which, again, can only be unlocked by clearing a certain amount of puzzles. Unfortunately, the amounts for these are rather high; in my time playing, I cleared 185 puzzles but only unlocked one extra song and no new themes.
Like any good puzzle, there are lots of strategies involved. As I played, I found more and more logical ways of figuring out what squares could and couldn’t have tents, and no puzzle I played relied on any guessing. If I couldn’t find a way to progress, it simply meant I wasn’t thinking hard enough. There’s a super helpful hint system for those who get really stuck. It will first inform you of any squares marked incorrectly. But, it will then show you where a tent or grass must be placed and why it needs to go there. I personally dislike using hints in games, but I went back to some puzzles I’d already solved and basically just let the hint system re-solve them. It really helped refine my skills and showed me some new ideas I hadn’t even thought of; huge props to the devs for having the hint system explain its process with you and not just give away tiles.
You’ll likely never run out of puzzles, with over 500 included (!) and an extra 18 daily puzzles (!!). These are categorized by grid size and difficulty, and some even have some numbers alongside the grid hidden to spice things up (these too are solvable by your own wits with no guessing needed). My only real complaint here is that the non-daily puzzles only go up to a 14×14 grid, with up to 20×20 puzzles being only in the daily packs. These huge puzzles are my favorites in the game (though admittedly presented some difficulty deciphering due to their sheer size when in handheld mode). While I’m glad there are at least a few available each day for me, it would have been nice to add some to the main selection.
Overall, Tents and Trees is a fantastic puzzle game that exceeded my expectations. It’s every bit as fun as Picross to me (it even gave me the ‘Tetris effect’ where I saw puzzles mentally when not playing, so it’s got to be good). I’ll be coming back again and again for more puzzle goodness. There’s also a free mobile app version, but I gravitated strongly towards this Switch one with its lack of mobile-app things (ads, in-game currency) and for simply being able to use a controller. For $9.99 on the eShop, this is a 100% worthwhile buy for puzzle fans. Pick it up!