Developer: Ryan Clarke
Release Date: March 14, 2021
I picked up Kakuro Blend with only having the vaguest idea what a Kakuro puzzle even was. I’ll be honest with you – what attracted me to it was that it looked visually similar to a mobile puzzle game that I really enjoy called I Love Hue. In a surprise to no one but me, I suppose, they’re nothing alike, outside of both dealing with shades of colors.
Kakuro Blend takes the idea of the Kakuro puzzle, which is a number puzzle involving math, and throws out all those pesky numbers and replaces them with colors. Instead of coming up with sums, you’re tasked with figuring out blends.
Reading through the tutorial (which is pretty informative, but not the least bit interactive) and playing through the first five (read: easiest) puzzles took me a little more than an hour. I mean, it sounds easy, but I was struggling, a lot. There are 9 base colors which you combine in rows or columns of two or more to create the color shown in the little triangle. You cannot use the same base color twice in any row or column.
The thing that keeps it from being, well, basically impossible, is the color lab on the right side of the screen. Click on any combination of colors to see the result of combining them all. You can right click on any of the little triangles to put that color in the small box in the upper right to make comparisons easier. Despite some of the colors looking pretty damn similar to my eyes, every unique combination results in a slightly different hue, so there is only one correct solution to each puzzle.
The button with the pound sign (#) will tell you how many errors you have, and you can smash that button every 20 seconds. You can use the hint button three times per puzzle, which removes every color that’s incorrect. There is also pencil mode, which let’s you select multiple colors per square, while you figure out what the perpendicular row or column needs. I didn’t use this during any of the puzzles I played, but I’m guessing it’ll be helpful on some of the later levels.
Another plus: the game will save your progress if you quit mid-puzzle, so you never feel you need to complete an entire level without closing the game. I do a like a game that respects the player’s time, and acknowledges that you cannot always play something to completion in a single sitting.
It took me a little bit to get into the swing of the game (and to remember to use things like the color lab and the error button), but finishing the very first puzzle was strangely satisfying. It auto-completes when all the squares are filled in correctly, and a small affirmation pops up where the color lab once was.
If you’re still not sure if this is your jam, the developer hosts a demo build on his website.
Although I was initially skeptical, I definitely feel like the average player would probably get close to the 10 hours of estimated play time out of the 40 puzzles included, and at a dime an hour, Kakuro Blend is a fantastic value for puzzle lovers who are adept at color mixing. I’ll likely keep playing as a palate cleanser between other sorts of games. I liked it way more than I expected to once I got in the groove.
SteamDB estimates that Kakuro Blend has sold less than 100 copies on Steam, and ranks it 6,355 out of 10,967 Steam releases in 2021.
Please bear with me as I am still figuring out exactly how I should be interpreting SteamDBs stats and rankings!