Color Garden – Build by Number Review

Paint-by-number takes on a new dimension in Color Garden – Build by Number. Create 3D dioramas and connect them together to build whole islands and populate them with people and animals.

Format: Android via Google Play
Cost: Free-to-Play
Pressure to Pay: Medium-High, read below for details

Color Garden - Build by Number. Overworld view of 9 completed dioramas connected together

Released by Hyper Mania

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Quick Overview

Major Pros:
  • Fun dioramas with mini-scenes
  • Relaxing art-by-numbers
Major Cons:
  • Rampant save issues, but there’s a workaround
Minor Pros:
  • Tons of dioramas
Minor Cons:
  • Coin generation always lags behind diorama creation
Color Garden - Build by Number. A diorama with partially painted terrain

Starting a diorama

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In-depth Review

Color Garden – Build by Number is a color-by-number-esque puzzle game where instead of coloring, players build dioramas. There are multiple zones for players to unlock and build in, from wild savannahs to theme parks. Starting a new diorama takes energy and filling in the last decorations takes coins (earned over time from completed dioramas). Some dioramas in each zone are locked behind a paywall.

Color Garden - Build by Number. A sandy beach diorama with some large objects placed. Currently, there are benches and short pillars. Some shrines and potted trees are waiting to be placed.

Placing large objects

To start building a diorama, players first paint-on the flat terrain. This includes things like grass, sand, and water. After the terrain is painted-on, large objects are added in a similar place-by-number fashion. These can include trees, houses, large rocks, and elevation changes. Lastly, players add detail to the diorama by paying coins to add smaller place-by-number living things such as people and animals. Finished dioramas often reveal active scenes that act as a glimpse into a story.

Color Garden - Build by Number. Spending coins to add martial arts figures to a diorama.

At current coin generation, it takes most of an hour to afford one figure for this diorama

Coins to add life to dioramas are generated passively over time based on the number of completed dioramas. The term ‘completed’ is relative here, dioramas with only their base terrain painted on and large items placed will still earn some coins, but less than if they had their life pieces. Because of this, the coin generation always lags behind what the player needs to fully complete dioramas, meaning players will typically have a large number of nearly-complete dioramas (still earning coins). There’s also no cap on earnings when offline (ie, the player can continue to earn coins even if offline for days).

Color Garden - Build by Number. A beach scene of one martial artist defeating three opponents simultaneously.

Fully completing a diorama

Apart from the slow coin generation, one of the biggest frustrations for players is the rampant save issues in Color Garden – Build by Number. If closed directly, the game often will not save ANY of that session’s diorama progress. Instead, players must first suspend the game and then refocus it before closing. Despite many complaints about this bug, it has gone unfixed for more than a year.

Color Garden - Build by Number. Scrolling list of travel dioramas, all with zero out of three stars toward completion

Within a zone, dioramas can be completed in any order

The pressure to pay in Color Garden – Build by Number is medium to high, depending on how bothered the player is by being unable to complete dioramas in one sitting due to slow coin generation, and whether they’re irked by not being able to complete zones due to paywall dioramas. I was personally okay with these but felt they were too cumbersome for most players. I would’ve preferred the first zone to be completely free with balanced coin generation, but then subsequent zones to be purchasable.

Color Garden - Build by Number. List of VIP benefits, such as gaining more energy per day, unlocking all VIP dioramas, removing ads, and better coin generation.

VIP terms in USD

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Recommendation

Overall, I had a lot of fun completing all the free puzzles in Color Garden – Build by Number, but felt that it’s execution did not live up to its ideas. It faced both technical challenges and paywall / income-balance issues that drove many players away. I’m on the hunt for similar games with a more user-friendly feel. I recommend Color Garden – Build by Number for players that are interested in its concept, but accepting of the flaws noted above.

What flawed games do you love anyway?
Let me know in the comments below!

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