Review: Sweet Home Puzzle

Sweet Home Puzzle, by indie developer Maso Games, is a chill, no-frills jigsaw puzzler that both beginners and enthusiasts can enjoy. It provides 100 puzzles across a small selection of image themes, such as wildlife, landscapes, landmarks, and works of art. Each puzzle can be played in nine difficulty tiers, ramping up the challenge based on the number of pieces, starting at 24 and increasing to tiers of 40, 70, 150, 260, 400, 600, 1000, and 1500. I’m not sure why but a few puzzles only have eight difficulty options. Not that that’s a big deal or anything, it’s just something that I noticed. Puzzles automatically save and backup to the Steam Cloud when you quit, so you’re free to take a break and come back later without losing any progress, or even have multiple puzzles going at once.

The interface is simple and largely intuitive. You left click to select a piece, right click while the piece is being held to rotate it, and then left click again to lay the piece down where you want it or attach it to another piece. When you align matching pieces next to each other, the selected piece will glow with a green highlight to indicate it can be connected. That’s all there is to it.

Many jigsaw games have a fixed puzzle board where the pieces lock into the background, so it can become as much about finding the exact spot on the screen for a piece to slot into as it is actually connecting the pieces together. That’s not really what doing a jigsaw puzzle in real life feels like. Sweet Home Puzzle, on the other hand, feels more authentic by allowing pieces, individual and connected groupings, to always be rotated and freely moved around the screen (and between sorting trays) so you can work through the puzzles using the same process you would with a physical jigsaw puzzle.

Organizing pieces (e.g. by color, pattern, shape, etc.) is made easy thanks to the aforementioned sorting tray system. Depending on how you want to categorize them, pieces can be placed into different sorting screens, which are displayed as circle tabs along the bottom of the screen. Clicking the on-screen plus button adds a new sorting screen, of which you’re able to have up to 15 tabs at once. The sorting system provides a lot of flexibility when arranging pieces, clicking back and forth between trays, completing smaller chunks of the puzzle in a less cluttered screen, and then brining them all together.

The mouse’s scroll wheel can be used to zoom the view in and out, while hotkeys (which you can customize) are available to perform functions such as shuffling the pieces, displaying a full size reference model of the completed image, showing a smaller thumbnail of the completed puzzle image in the upper left corner, and automatically grouping all of the border pieces into a separate sorting screen, if you want a quick helping hand with getting the puzzle’s boundaries established. These functions can also be selected from buttons along the right side of the screen, but it’d be nice to have the option to toggle these off to streamline the HUD and lessen on-screen clutter so you have a better view of the puzzle pieces.

As efficient and effective as the interface mostly is, I have encountered a few areas that need to be tightened up. Sometimes if you click and drag the cursor too quickly the piece will deselect and drop to the board, and you’ll have to pick it up again. Also, with pieces being jumbled and stacked on top of each other around the screen’s perimeter, it can occasionally be difficult to click the exact piece you’re after, as if there is some conflict in the code about which layer the mouse cursor is recognizing. You’ll see the piece you want and try to click it but somehow wind up grabbing another piece from below the pile that wasn’t even visible. When this happens multiple times in a row while attempting to click a specific piece it becomes rather annoying. I guess this in a way replicates the process of having to dig through a puzzle box of jumbled pieces like you would with a physical jigsaw puzzle, but in a videogame environment it feels a bit clunky.

Another small complaint I have is with the sorting system. Currently when you drag pieces between trays they randomly rotate and appear on the edges of the new screen, which means you have to hunt for them again and rotate them back to the way they were whenever you change screens. When moving pieces between sorting trays, it would be great to have them transfer preserved in the orientation that you had them in on the previous screen, and also appear at the center of the screen so they are front and center where you need them.

In terms of presentation, Sweet Home Puzzle goes for pure minimalism, which may be a positive or negative depending on your tastes. The main menu displays a cozy family room scene, with a photo album laying on a coffee table next to a lit fireplace serving as the puzzle selection interface. Simply flip through the album and click the photo of the puzzle you want to play. Each puzzle image is accompanied by an encyclopedic text blurb offering facts about the puzzle’s subject, for anyone interested in picking up extra tidbits of trivia. Music options include a choice between jazz piano and handpan melodies, but for a game like this you’ll probably just want to mute the audio and listen to your own music anyway.

The puzzles themselves are played out on a plain light brown backdrop. It seems like a well chosen contrast color that doesn’t easily blend in with the colors and patterns of the puzzle pieces, so it’s ideal for functionality. But the game still could benefit from offering multiple background color choices to mix things up if desired, as well as a greater diversity of puzzle image themes. There are plenty of beautiful pictures to complete and the image quality is crisp and vivid, but to be honest the included puzzle themes aren’t super-duper exciting. The developer is planning to implement a “Puzzle of the week” feature in a future update, though, which could definitely be used as a vehicle to introduce a wider and more diverse range of themes.

Sweet Home Puzzle has some shortcomings but overall is a very good digital representation of the jigsaw puzzle genre and a solid foundation for the developer to build upon with additional features and optimizations moving forward. If you’re looking for a jigsaw game with more modern “gamey” features and a flashier presentation, you may find this game to be a bit mundane and minimalistic. However, Sweet Home Puzzle is an excellent choice if you just want a straightforward jigsaw game with broad accessibility, a huge assortment of puzzles to piece together, and a more authentic approach to its gameplay.

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Game Info:
Platform: Steam
Publisher: Maso Games
Developer: Maso Games
Release Date: 6/4/2021
Genre: Jigsaw Puzzle
Players: 1

Source: A free copy of Sweet Home Puzzle was provided to VGBlogger.com for review consideration by Maso Games.

Buy From: Steam for $24.99.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!