Day 10: WordWise

Posted: 2010/11/19 in Indie Games
Tags: , ,

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and no longer appear in the top 50 downloads. Today is day #10, and today’s game is “WordWise”.

In WordWise you spell words with tiles to clear tiles from the board. The challenge comes in trying to clear as much of the board as possible, with as few words left over as possible. The tiles are stacked several layers deep, so clearing a tile will reveal the one underneath it, until they’re all gone. Similar to Mahjong, for a tile to be in play it must have an open side. The trial mode of the game arrays the tiles only one way, but once you buy the game many more open up, some of which are quite a bit more challenging. When you spell a word, its definition is provided.

I’ve played computer versions of Mahjong for years, but this appeals to me more. The game is much more open-ended because there are a lot more possible combinations, and more strategic options too. With Mahjong there are some tiles that are obviously ones you should clear our more quickly, to open up the sides of tiles that will be more difficult to clear later. With WordWise, the only real limit to the combinations and the strategies is your vocabulary. Do you clear a large bulk of tiles with easy words to free up space and open the game up using common letters right off the bat, or do you focus on the more difficult (less common) letters immediately? The game can play out wildly differently every time.

Unique amongst word games, people with smaller vocabularies likely won’t feel as hampered with this game as they would with most others. Simple and common words use up tiles just as effectively as bigger and lesser known words, and there’s no time limit so you’re free to take your time, and even to consult a dictionary.

The game displays your avatar in game. I could honestly take or leave that feature, I found it neither added to nor significantly detracted from the experience. The game does try to use the avatar’s reactions to help communicate whether a word is valid or not, but it still felt a little gratuitous.

For 80 Microsoft Points, this is recommended for people who like either word games or tile matching games, and strongly recommended for people who like both.

Tried this already? Vote below. About to download it? Please come back and vote after trying it.

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