MythicOwl, the studio behind puzzler Hexologic, has released One Line Coloring on the Nintendo Switch eShop. With a super chill gameplay premise that anyone can pick up and play, this connect-the-dots sim feels like the perfect follow-up to their original Hex-based PC title.
One Line Coloring is a digital version of connect-the-dots but with some light puzzle elements gently dusted over the top. The gimmick here are the dots are not numbered and the player can usually start at any dot although there are some puzzles that have a predetermined origin point. The goal is to complete the shape without having any lines overlap. While the beginning puzzles are easy, the difficulty actually ramps quickly as more complex items need to be drawn. There are some dots that essentially act like conveyor belts as lines can only be drawn in one specific direction, adding to the challenge.
Instead of completing a puzzle and simply moving onto the next, the dotted shapes become basic polygonal 3D objects in which the player can inspect from all angles once the puzzle is completed. Then, these items get placed within an environmental setting, eventually completing a diorama-like scene. Honestly, this picture setting doesn’t do anything functional as the player has no control over where items gets placed but provides that unnecessary but welcomed charm.
As simple and pleasant as this entire experience is, there are a few basic quality of life omissions that I found to hinder the gameplay. First is the lack of a full restart option. Connecting dots is easy and intuitive simply by pressing a button and pointing the analog stick in the desired direction, but the player can only undo steps one at a time by tapping another face button. There are so many other unused buttons on the controller so it is a shame that none of them allow for an instant restart. Some puzzles are composed of dozens of dots so it is annoying and time consuming to step back one dot at a time when you realize you made a mistake and need to start over. It is possible to restart by pulling up and navigating a menu but having an instant restart mapped to RT + LT could have make gameplay that more intuitive.
It is also a bit of shame that no hint system was included. Admittedly, I was unable to complete some of the trickier, 3-star difficulty puzzles due to their complex nature. The challenge thickens to another level when the player as the ability to start at any origin point too. Frustration levels could have been reduced if there was a hint button, telling the player the next possible step. The experience remains casual throughout even though there is a timer, but the timer is there for the player’s own challenge. There is no grading, ranking, or leaderboard systems so there is no incentive to play faster other than creating your own personal challenge and replayability. It is also unfortunate there is no option to turn off the rumble feature. Feeling a bump every time a dot is connected or undone gets annoying.
The low poly, soft pastel color palette gives off the most casual vibes possible. This laid back approach is only amplified by the looping, easy-listening soundtrack. It is also worth mentioning that many puzzles are available right from the start. If you get stuck on a certain puzzle, no worries, just back out and try a different one. By the time you come back to it, you will have already unlocked several more so the progression system should never make the player feel limited in available puzzle choices but still create a sense of accomplishment.
Also available on PC.