Sunome Puzzles

Review

Sunome is a new logic puzzle, invented by Adam Bontrager. The name is an abbreviation of “Suji no meiro” which means “digit maze” in Japanese.

Sunome puzzles come in the form of a grid with numbers on the sides, and a Start (S) and End (E) cells inside. The goal is to design a “proper” maze with the given Start and End cells, such that the amount of vertical and horizontal walls in each row and column is predetermined by the numbers around the grid. The meaning of “proper” involves a lot of technical requirements, such as existence of a unique path from Start to End, lack of closed off regions, etc.

Initially, the rules of Sunome seem relatively complex in comparison to the likes of Sudoku and Kakuro. However, it takes little time to get a good grasp of them. The clues regarding the number of walls in the rows and columns are the ones used mostly, just like in a Nonogram. Once the player gets stuck, they need to apply some of the other rules, which unlock the solving process further. Overall, I find the experience highly enjoyable, since it requires paying attention to multiple components at once.

Each puzzle in the Sunome books is manually designed, so that the solution can be deduced analytically, without the need of a trial-and-error approach. The difficulty is generally lower than Sudoku and Kakuro which allows the player to complete a few puzzles in a 10 to 20 minutes long break and get back to working on other things.

While the original Sunome puzzles would hardly get boring, the author makes sure new puzzle mechanics are introduced in each successive book in the series:

• BOOK 2: Pits, Portals, and Passages – adds objects and complexity to the grid
• BOOK 3: Sunome Cubed – changes the shape of the grid to a cube
• BOOK 4: Sunome Blocks – instead of a creating a maze, the player must break the grid into shapes with predetermined sizes, similarly to Shikaku

In addition to Sunome, the author has started publishing a separate series of original Transportation puzzles. So far this includes Kartdoodle and Skyways, with Railways coming out soon. While all puzzles are highly entertaining, my personal favorite so far is Skyways. It plays a lot like Numberlink and the mobile game “Flow Free” but has some added complexity.

One can get the PDF versions of the books from itch.io for merely $1 each (at the time of publishing this post), which is a great bargain for such a good bundle of puzzles. Physical versions are also available on Amazon for$8. Each one of them is in the form of a small-format softcover, ideal to keep in the bag during travels. I hope the author will eventually consider combining all Sunome books in one deluxe hardcover edition and will do the same with his Transportation puzzles.

If you are still not convinced about Adam’s original puzzles, you can try the free sampler provided below. Also, for just a few bucks per month, you can subscribe to his Patreon. I am very happy to see such a prolific puzzle creator and looking forward to try his future work.

• about 100 puzzles in each book
• variations keep the puzzles engaging
• affordable PDF and physical formats

GET SUNOME PUZZLES

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