Quick Look – Sudoku RPG (#JustOnePercent 1/100)

Developer: RainbowStudio

Release Date: February 10, 2021

MSRP: $2.99

Maybe it’s weird, but I really do appreciate when someone takes a rather basic puzzle game, and tries to add another layer to it to make it more compelling. Like, I don’t need any bells and whistles to get me to solve a few Sudoku puzzles, but even as someone who really likes puzzles, I’m unlikely to do a marathon session, you know? So I loved the idea of mixing it up with a little bit of RPG to make it more compulsively playable.

And it is, but not for the reasons I was expecting. The “RPG” side of Sudoku RPG is pretty barebones. Naturally, you’re the chosen one (and the opening moments of the game definitely make fun of the trope), so off you go, with your fairy companion, who seems to be mostly along for wisecrackin’. You fight monsters to get further along your path to the big bad, and earn a few coins along the way. You can also pop back to town as often as you like without losing progress. Town consists of three shops, each with a handful of items, a healing fountain, and a dungeon that gives you a lot of opportunities to pick up useful items once you unlock it.

Honestly, after playing for about an hour or so I’m not sure how enthused I actually am about going to kill the demon king. What I do love – and what I had no idea would be any fun until I tried it – is speed Sudoku. The key to taking down all the baddies in your path is getting combos – which means you need to fill in a correct answer faster than the critter you’re fighting can get off a move.

Early on, the puzzles are insultingly simple for anyone who has done much Sudoku in the past, but the difficulty ramps up very quickly. I discovered that I can either work fast, or take in everything on the screen, so I’ve elected to keep on working fast, and it’s served me well through the first three areas and some dungeon diving. However, if you’re more adept than I am at multitasking, you can actually do things like stop a ranged attack, and see how many of each number are left in the puzzle. You can purchase or collect items that might help get you out of a jam, but I have yet to hit a point where figuring things out quickly isn’t enough to get by on.

If a mash-up has to be uneven (and they almost always are, at least a little), the puzzle/RPG mashup should focus more on enjoyable puzzling than a great RPG. If someone hates Sudoku, putting it over even the best story-focused game isn’t going to persuade them, and the puzzling is a lot of fun. I might have enjoyed it just as much if it were just speed Sudoku, but then again, I probably wouldn’t have picked the game up in the first place.

Once you’ve beaten the game (or tired of it), you can also choose to play more puzzles from the main menu. Classic Sudoku is exactly what it sounds like – choose one of six difficulty levels and puzzle at your own pace. Ranked Sudoku is a rapid fire succession of five puzzles, and your rank depends on how fast you can complete them. The first couple are pretty simple, but after that you may find that your speed drops off as they get more challenging.

My first foray into Ranked Sudoku, I did … not great. I’m not sure how many people are actually playing this game, but I’m guessing ranking outside of the top 100 probably puts me pretty close to the bottom of the pack.

I have no clue how deep the Tower of Ordeal goes, but there are five main areas, each with 10 battles leading up to your final confrontation with the Demon King. An epic, this isn’t. In fact, if you’re a competent Sudoku player, you could probably run through the whole game in a couple of hours. Still, it’s a novel combination of mechanics, even if it could use a story editor & a bit of polish.

Probably my biggest gripe with the game is that the Steam screenshot key (F12 by default, and that’s what I use) doesn’t seem to work, so I had to use an external program for my screenshots. Now, that’s probably going to be something an average player wouldn’t even notice, but as a blogger, it was a smidgen annoying.

Sudoku RPG isn’t a game that’s going to change your life, but it might be one you find yourself coming back to when you get the urge to puzzle against a ticking clock.

SteamDB estimates that Sukoku RPG has sold somewhere between 1,700 and 4,600 copies on Steam, giving it a ranking of 2,540 out of 10,967 Steam releases in 2021.

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