DescriptionSquareCells is a logic puzzle game where patterns have to be revealed. This is done by removing squares from a grid, based on the surrounding clues. The game has a minimalist visual style, ambient music and some game elements that are very similar to the earlier Hexcells games by the same developer. The puzzle mechanic is however entirely different, even though it once again has elements of Minesweeper and Picross.
The 36 levels each contain a rectangular grid with a size that varies. The grid consists of squares that all have the same colour. To win a level, the player has to remove squares from the grid until the correct pattern is revealed. Below the grid it shows the total amount of squares and how many need to be removed to finish the level. Interaction is done using the mouse: one button is used to remove squares and the other to mark squares as a part of the pattern. The latter adds a small white rectangular sign in the top right corner of a square to visualize this.
The patterns do not represent an object that can be recognized and are irregular in shape. There is also no guessing involved, the player has to interpret the numbers on the left side of the rows and those on top of the columns. In addition some levels have squares that contain a number. The numbers next to a row are for instance "1 1 3". That means that row contains five squares that are part of the pattern: one square, one square and then three, also in that order from left to right. As there are three groups of squares in this row, the player also knows there is always at least one square between each group to separate them and those can thus be removed. The same principle applies to the numbers on top of columns, but then reading from the top to the bottom. The player often has to combine the information from different rows and columns and use logic and elimination to slowly reveal the pattern. in Hexcells the player had to optionally manually draw lines or strike numbers as a part of the process to keep the overview. In this game this is done automatically. When a part of the pattern has been identified correctly and some squares have been removed, making certain that part of the puzzle is already correct, some numbers are made lighter to show the player the moves are correct and to make it easier to handle the remaining ones.
Some columns or rows sometimes have a single number between brackets, for instance "(8)". That means the player only knows there are eight squares part of the pattern in that column or row, but the correct order or the number of groups is not known. For squares that contain a number inside, the number is always part of the pattern and it signifies how a link is made. A square with the number "5" forms a trail of exactly five squares part of the pattern, with connections horizontally and vertically, but not diagonally, and the next square in the link is always immediately adjacent.
Sets of levels are unlocked gradually and there is a colour blind mode. Up to three stars can be earned per puzzle and to fully complete a puzzle not a single mistake is allowed. Unlike the Hexcells games where a mistake is spotted right away through visual feedback, that is not always the case for this game. The game shows the player when he attempts to remove a square that is actually part of the pattern, but not the other way around. That way, marking squares part of the patterns in similar to flags in Minesweeper. They are visual markings by and for the player and not necessarily correct; the game only judges the squares that are removed. Puzzles can be played multiple times and they can also be reset and when quitting they are saved automatically to continue at a later time.
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