Paint it Back from Casual Labs debuted last year for iOS and was an instant hit in the Puzzle game category. The app challenges you to use your paintbrush to solve each puzzle and restore the missing paintings from the art gallery.
Paint it Back has a unique gameplay that uses a grid and numbers to tell you where to paint. It's a paint-by-numbers game with a whole new twist. At the top of each row and column of the grid is a number that tells you how many squares need to be painted in the grid. It's easy to figure out which squares to paint when the number tells you to paint 5 out of the 5 squares. It's much more of a challenge when there is only one square that needs to be painted, and you need to figure out which one. The app discourages you from guessing and encourages you to solve the puzzle by using the logical side of your brain to fill in the blanks using the numbers for other columns.
There are 140 paintings to solve and 14 rooms to unlock. Each room gets increasingly difficult as the puzzles get larger and the patterns that you paint more complex. The app supports up to six profiles, allowing each member of a household to play at their own pace. The Mac version also uses iCloud sync to save game progress so you can start a game on a Mac and end it on your iPad.
The Mac version appears to be a straight port from the iOS version, which brings with it some advantages and some disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that it is easy to sync games across devices. This makes the game even more enjoyable, as you can finish off a painting on your Mac while you wait for a file to download. The biggest disadvantage I found was with the controls -- the app was originally built for touchscreen gameplay and the controls did not carry over well to the cursor-driven interaction on the Mac.
I repeatedly had difficulty selecting squares to color on my Mac (2013 MacBook Air). I would use two-fingers to fill a square and then move to the next square. If I didn't remove my fingers right away, the app would fill in the next square as I hovered over it. I also noticed that if I moved my cursor over a square for too long, the game would fill it in without me clicking on it. This made it frustrating to play as I was frequently painting squares and unpainting squares every time I deliberately or accidentally touched my trackpad with two fingers.
Paint it Back is a fun and addictive puzzler. I highly recommend the iOS version and cautiously recommend the Mac version for those who already own the iOS version and want to extend their gameplay to the Mac. Personally, I' m going to put the Mac version away and wait for a few revisions to tweak the controls. Once the controls are in place, it'll be an enjoyable puzzler to play across platforms. Paint it Back is available from the Mac App Store for US$4.99. The iOS version is available for free and includes in-app purchases to unlock content.