There is no shortage of word puzzles on mobile devices, ranging from the relatively recent Letterpress to the classic Scrabble. In terms of territory, you would think that pretty much everything had been covered. Fortunately, that is not the case. There are new vistas to explore and the appropriately named folks at AppyNation have shown us one in Word Forward.
A free download from the iTunes App Store (nope, no news on an Android version yet), Word Forward starts off with a 5 x 5 grid packed with 25 letters. Each letter has a certain score attached to it – from what we could see, more commonly used letters (like vowels and ‘s’) had lower scores, while those that were likely to be used less frequently (the Xs and the Zs) had higher scores. Your task, as in most word games, is to make words using the letters on the grid. Every time you make a word, the letters you use drop off the grid. Your objective? Primarily, to keep making words until you get below a certain score specified by the game. Secondarily, to clear the grid by using all the letters on it for making words.
Sounds relatively routine? Ah, well, here come the spins then. While making words is a relatively simple affair – you drag your finger across the letters that make up the work, which have to be adjacent to each other and can be straight, triangular or diagonal – there are a few strategic elements thrown in to spice up the game. You can make tiles from any part of the board swap places with each other, although the number of swaps is limited. You can also replace a tile (again the number of times you can do so is limited) with another of your choice. You have a ‘letter bomb’ that blows away the letters that are getting in your way and rounding off the options, and if all else fails, you have the option of simply changing all the letters that are on the board, and getting new ones. Oh the game can complicate matters for you by insisting that a tile can be used in a word only in a particular direction, limiting your options.
All of this, in a clean, uncluttered interface, which works very smoothly indeed. There are hours and hours of gameplay out here for the word-making crowd with five difficulty levels (from Easy to Godlike, and there’s a Super Ninja in between too), and thanks to the different kinds of tile tweaking options, there’s a serious amount of strategy involved as well – for instance, you figure out that making grand-looking words count for little if it leaves a number of tiles isolated, and you also learn to ration your vowels (and curse all those unidirectional tiles that trip up all your greatest verbal endeavors). Of course, you can make things easier for yourself with some in-app purchases, but we think it is a whole lot more fun just grappling with the limits the game sets on you. It is free, it tests your brains, and it is addictive as hell. Oh yes, there is a new word game in town and we confess we are hooked. Next stop: the Super Ninja level.
Available from: iTunes App Store