Pickomino is fun, but too focused on luck.
Fans of Yahtzee will likely be interested in Pickomino. The game allows you to roll a series of dice and score points, just like in the aforementioned classic. But there is also an extra layer of complexity here. The game’s many rules aren’t overly complicated, allowing for players of any age to jump in and try their luck. But there just isn’t enough gameplay here to keep you interested for very long.
Pickomino‘s rules are numerous, but they work together to create an intuitive luck-based system. Each game is split into rounds and each round sees you starting with eight six-sided dice, which are rolled with a single click. The numbers one to five are presented on five of the sides, with a dragon symbol, worth five points, replacing the six.
For the game’s Classic Mode, the point of each round is to reach a score that is either equal to or larger than one of the 16 score tiles placed at the top of the screen. Each time you roll the dice you must choose one of the six symbols/numbers to hold. The other dice are then re-rolled. However, once you hold a particular number or symbol, you won’t be able to claim like-dice again for the rest of the round. For example, if you roll three fives in your first roll, and then keep those fives, you won’t be able to keep any other fives for the rest of the round.
This puts a large focus on luck, which unfortunately dominates over any skill-based gameplay. Adding to the complexity, the only way your work will count for anything is if you claim at least one dragon die in your holding area. If you’re unlucky enough to never see a dragon, your hand is “busted,” and the top-scoring tile at the top of the screen is removed.
You can bust your hand in a number of other ways as well. If you roll the dice, and all of your rolled dice only match those numbers that you’ve already claimed, you have no legal moves to make and your hand is forfeit. And if you work your way through the entire eight dice and never reach a total matching (or surpassing) at least one of the remaining score tiles, you’ll also bust.
If you do manage to escape the many perils that potentially await and reach a score that matches or exceeds a score tile at the top, you can claim that tile for your overall game score at any time. You must claim at least five of the 16 tiles to win the game, which ends when all 16 tiles have been used, either by you claiming them, or by them being removed after a busted hand. The more tiles you claim, the more experience points you earn for your overall level.
After winning a game, you’ll be able to open one of three mystery boxes, which normally contain various colors of gems that can be used as premium currency across all of Zabu Studio‘s games. Additionally, as you level up, you’ll unlock two other gameplay modes and some power-ups that can be used across all three modes.
The other gameplay modes offer slight variations. In Random Mode, tiles are stacked on top of one another, limiting the number of point totals you can achieve in order to claim tiles. And in Progressive Mode, you’re given only a small portion of the 16 original tiles to claim. If you manage to claim five tiles from the starting eight, you move onto another round that is more difficult, but worth more points.
While everything technically works in Pickomino (and is much easier to understand in practice than in writing), the game has some frustrating design choices, most notably the inclusion of an energy system that only allows you to play a certain number of games in one session. It’s unlikely that the gameplay here would be enough for someone to want to play for hours at a time, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to.
Pickomino ultimately suffers from its own design: there are too many ways you can fail in each round. While luck-based systems aren’t uncommon, Pickomino is too stacked in the opposite direction, as the odds are against you finishing any one game without busting a good portion of your tiles. If you have patience, there is some entertainment to be found here in short gameplay sessions. But it doesn’t last very long.