Jigsaw Puzzle Dreams

PC, free

No! Come back! I promise I haven’t gone mad.

I really do enjoy a good jigsaw, but I have never ever found any computerised version to be good enough. Well, Animated Puzzles came close, mostly for doing a thing that real jigsaws can’t, but even that took too much away from the real-world version to feel like a replication. Then along comes Jigsaw Puzzle Dreams, an absolutely ghastly name for an extraordinarily good game.

Most digital attempts at jigsawing make the same mistakes, the worst being they invariable have pieces magnetically snap into place, meaning they do have the solving for you. You can, and these are words I wasn’t intending to write in my life, cheese the jigsaw. Then, because most such games are quick-n-dirty attempts to make a buck off Steam, they’re often poorly put together, awkward to use, and probably have hentai pictures on them. But Jigsaw Puzzle Dreams feels like someone came along to the format and thought: let’s entirely start over. Mostly because that’s what siblings Nic and Shawn Clapper did.

The result is a jigsaw game that feels astonishingly similar to doing one in the real world, except your wife doesn’t get cross with you for leaving it all over the dining table. In fact, the jigsawing is set in an imaginary home, which you can also redecorate!

I jumped right in to the default home, and played a 600 piece puzzle on the wooden floor. The camera is then free, letting you “sit” wherever you choose, or hover over it like you’re being carried by a dozen drones (my dream jigsawing situation), and the pieces are scattered. You can pick just how scattered in the options, from having it be random if they’re even the right way up, all the way to their being correctly orientated when you start. You don’t want either of those. Because obviously, the correct choice is to have the game do the boring work of turning them all the right way up, but not do the actual work of turning them the right way around like you’re a five-year-old. And talking of scattered, it makes such a difference to have a game where you can spread pieces out as far as you want, rather than being limited by the borders of the screen.

In fact, turning the pieces is a huge part of the pleasure here, the game brilliantly letting you choose how it works. You can set rotation to as little as 1°, or as mercenary as 90°. 45° works for me, allowing it not to be a fiddle, but still removing that sense of the gaming playing it for you. And yes, you’re right, I am discussing piece rotation angles in a review of a jigsaw game on my website, and no, I will not be shamed out of this.

You get a whole ton here for free, which is incredible given how good this all is. The base game comes with a big pile of puzzles, decent images that seem interesting to try, ones you’ll actually want to play. Then there’s a bunch of DLC packs you can add, 38 in each, for £4 a pop (and there’s a deal to get all five for £12). Even better, once you’ve bought at least one DLC, you can add your own images to make jigsaws out of.

Each time it makes a puzzle, it creates it uniquely, and claims that no two pieces are exactly the same shape. And it really works! I had a bit of an odd time uploading an image, but restarting the game had it appear in my custom page, and so I was on to puzzling my ridiculous cute kitten’s face.

This time I of course had to make the room as hideous as possible, and the ridiculous array of choices lent itself nicely to that.

This thing is so realistic that pieces can fall off the table. (There’s also a button to warp them back up, or you can really lean over and pick them up off the floor!) And when you complete a puzzle, you can hang it on your wall!

This is all just such a great idea, so well executed, and the best digital jigsaw game I’ve played by a long stretch. That you can play a significant amount of it for free is almost silly.

  • That’s Nice Games
  • Steam
  • Free (DLC £4 each)

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4 Comments

  1. Looks fun but let’s get more of that kitten too! Can we dream of another set of cat game reviews?!?

  2. I am so down for a decent virtual jigsaw thingy. I wonder if it simulates my dad secretly slipping a piece into his pocket so he can be the one to slot the last piece in? Or the whole family catching on, leading to a jigsaw standoff with five missing pieces and everyone standing around whistling innocently?

  3. Thanks for the review! If you like to get into puzzle rotation one neat trick is to set alt rotation controls to mouse wheel up/down and then degrees to 1% for an interesting free form experience.

  4. So for four quid, I can turn my eight cats into jigsaw puzzles? Sold. I second Nate’s request for more kitten pics, too.

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