When it comes to word-based gaming, most titles fall into the category of either scrambled words, Hangman, or some variation of Scrabble. But what if a game manages to combine the word making craft of Scrabble and throws in the combine-to-make-’em-disappear magic of Bejewelled? Well, the curiously named W.E.L.D.E.R. (which incidentally stands for Word Extraction Library for Dynamic Extraction and Reassessment, believe it or not) just attempts to do that. And succeeds. What’s more, after starting out as an iOS app, it is now available on Android as well.
There will be those who will feel that a word game that comes with a price tag has got off the wrong foot, but take our word for it, if you like word games, this will be $2.99 you will never regret spending. For, W.E.L.D.E.R. is not just about finding words in a grid, but seeing the words you make disappear off the grid to be replaced by new letters. All of which is accompanied by a wonderful grinding of levers that sounds right out medieval metallic machinery.
Your task is simple – you are given a grid of 64 letters (8 x 8), and you have to make a certain number of words using them. There is a catch – you only have a limited number of chances to move letters around to create words. You can move letters that are adjacent to each other – vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Tapping two adjacent letters will see them swap places, and this is how you go about making words. Each word has to be at least four letters wrong and proper nouns (names of places and people are not allowed). Every time you make a legit word, the letters disappear from the grid, and their neighbours drop into their places, while a new set of letters appears on the top of the grid – very Bejewelled, eh? There are also a number of blank tiles on the board, to which you can allot any letter with a double tap – mind you, this would count as a move. You do not have to select words – the app will detect if a word has been created by your move and will remove the letters from the grid accordingly. There will even be times when you will create words without knowing it. The new letters may drop into place fortuitously or the letters that slide down when you create a word might form a new word without your moving anything – a huge bonus when you are running out of moves. Words can be made from left to right or from top to down – no reverse order.
The challenge every time is the same – make a certain number of words within a certain number of moves (called ‘swaps’). The longer words you make, the higher your score and if you happen to strike a particularly rich vein of verbal form, you can even earn extra swaps. Your score, the number of words left to make and the number of moves you have left. There are all kinds of wild cards floating around – tiles that cannot, tiles that can be moved only under some conditions, and a whole lot more. All in a smoothly working interface – you will love the grinding sounds just as you loved the squelchy disappearance of jewels in bejewelled.
It is simple. Addictive. Strains your brain. All of which makes W.E.L.D.E.R. easily one of the best word-based games we have ever played. Yes, we wish it were free. Yes, we still think it is worth spending money on.