Stained-glass puzzling with Pictorial 2

Pictorial 2 is a new iOS game from German developer CloudGears. It’s a paid puzzle game, currently only available in an iPhone-specific version — though if its predecessor is anything to go by, an HD iPad version can probably be expected shortly.

The original Pictorial was a spatial-reasoning puzzle that required players to uncover hidden pictures in the night sky by using the touchscreen to rotate their viewpoint. Pictorial 2 takes the same approach, but using apparently shattered stained-glass windows instead. Players must twist and rotate the broken pieces so that they appear to form a flat picture, at which point the level is completed and the player is scored according to how quickly they completed the puzzle.

If players are struggling to complete a level, they can make use of an automatic solution facility, which bypasses the level but awards the player no score. Two solutions are provided to the player for free, and additional ones are available via in-app purchase. The most expensive package of solutions costs $4.99 and permanently unlocks the solution facility without the requirement for additional purchases.

The game is simple to understand but surprisingly challenging, particularly when the later levels introduce additional mechanics such as the pieces revealing themselves a little at a time rather than all at once — or some pieces disappearing as others appear. It can prove frustrating at times when no matter which way the shattered pieces are rotated, no picture seems to emerge, but this mostly just serves to make it all the more satisfying when a solution is successfully reached.

The touchscreen controls are responsive and work well. On-screen symbolic feedback also indicates when the player has successfully composed the picture but it is oriented incorrectly in 2D — though some explicit explanation the first time this appears would have been welcome.

The game currently has 85 levels, all of which are set atop a “studio” backdrop. The nature of the game means that it will be easy for CloudGears to expand, however, with new background settings and puzzles to appear in those environments. If the developer wished to monetize the game further than it already is, these new levels could even be sold as premium expansions — though judging from App Store reviews of the past, many iOS gamers prefer “modular” games such as this to be expanded with free updates rather than paid downloadable/unlockable content.

Pictorial 2 is a well-presented game with excellent graphics, attractive lighting effects and a soothing, relaxing (if slightly repetitive) background soundtrack. It’s a good fit for the mobile platform, with individual levels that are challenging but still take no more than a couple of minutes to complete. There is also plenty of content for players to work their way through, though the most dedicated portable puzzle fiends will doubtless rush through and complain that there are not enough levels. These players will be easily placated with regular updates, however, and judging from the prominent “More Levels Coming Soon” item in the game’s menus, it looks as if this is exactly what CloudGears is planning to do.

Pictorial 2 is not yet ranked on the App Store leaderboards. Check back shortly to follow its progress through the charts of 15 different countries with AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.