Tents and Trees review: perfect bedtime puzzling

Before I start my review of Frozax Games’ Tents and Trees, I need to apologize to my mother.

You see, as a kid I would look at puzzle games with derision; my mom would play stuff like Tetris or Pipe Dreams, and I would summarily turn my nose up to it. It’s very similar to the disdain I would have towards educational or children’s games, which wasn’t actually based on any real metric other than ‘they weren’t for me ergo they must be bad’. Which, let’s face it, was dumb. Now that I am the same age now that my mother was when I first got into videogames, I can finally say – I get it. I get it, and I’m sorry.

With that off my chest, let me say this. Tents and Trees is a brilliantly simple logic puzzle game that has quickly become a regular part of my nightly wind down, and will remain part of it.

Tents and Trees is, for lack of a better term, a modification on the tried-and-tested nonogram formula. For the uninitiated, nonograms take place on a grid with numbers on the left and topside of the board that you need to use to deduce where to color in squares and where to leave them blank. Using the square count and the numbers in each row and column, you will suss out various strategies to fill out the board. If that’s a lot for your brain to grok, the best corollary is that Tents and Trees is like Picross, but with a couple of added rules.

The first rule is that each tent must be pitched next to a tree. The other is that you can’t put one up next to another tent. Using these two concepts, you fill in the grid accordingly until you solve the puzzle. Much like a nonogram, there are numbers that will help you glean positions. While adding rules in theory would make the game more complex, it actually makes it easier, because you can also figure out more open spaces to mark off by attrition. Between this fact and the endearing theming of the game (with more themes to unlock as you progress), I found Tents and Trees to be much more relaxing than your average logic puzzle.

There are tons of puzzles with ever expanding boards and, if that’s not enough, a daily puzzle challenge to keep you going for a really long time. Again, there are unlockable themes and music tracks as well as achievements if you need added motivation beyond the satisfaction of solving a puzzle. Personally, I’m set for a long time; I don’t binge puzzles and kind of soak and revel in what’s on offer. It’s a great game to play as a sort of chaser to other games, or as a kind of bedtime snack before I turn the lights out.

This is why I needed to address my bad behavior as a child – my mom was onto something as she bopped along to Alexey Pajitnov’s magnum opus on a nightly basis. Solving a puzzle is an intrinsic way to get a little dopamine hit for a good night’s sleep. Tents and Trees is so ingenious I wish someone would make little puzzle books of it for airports and newsstands, because its design should be ubiquitous. I can’t think of higher praise than simply wanting more people to experience it.

Tents and Trees was developed by Frozax Games, and it’s available on Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android and Kindle. We played the Switch version.

Disclosure statement: review code for Tents and Trees was provided by Frozax Games. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.

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