enfrdeitptrues

Puzzle

  • Tumblestone (Mac)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Tumblestone
    Developed by: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
    Published by: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
    Released: July 12, 2016
    Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux/SteamOS, Xbox One, PS4, WiiU
    Genre: Puzzle
    ESRB rating: E
    Number of players: 1-4
    Price: $24.99
    (Humble Store Link)

     

    Thank you, Ty Taylor, for sending us a copy of this game to review!

    When it comes to puzzle games, it seems that the "match three" type comes up many, many times. These games should be familiar to anyone who has played video games for any length of time. Line up three matching shapes, and poof! They disappear. The puzzle continues in this fashion until a certain condition is met – often the removal of all the shapes – or the player loses. 

    So Tumblestone doesn't deviate from this tried and true formula by much. The developer, The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, does add a slight twist, though. Your character needs to select three of the colors from the blocks closest to him/her/it. If you don't select three matching colors, you will be penalized – often by having to start the puzzle all over from the beginning!

    Tumblestone
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Colorful and amusing graphics; fun and varied gameplay
    Weak Points: Bland music; puzzles can sometimes be frustratingly difficult; few online players to compete against
    Moral Warnings: Cartoonish violence; undead references

    While I wouldn't call this mechanic particularly innovative or original, it is different enough to keep a player interested, at least. The game features a variety of modes to play. There is a story mode, in which several characters with oversized heads try to solve a set of puzzles that increase in difficulty the further into the story you get. There are a few random challenges thrown in for good measure, but most of the puzzles have a unique solution. Other modes are randomly generated, such as "infinipuzzle," in which you can make matches until you make a mistake, or marathon, where you can keep making matches for as long as you can until the stones close in on you.

    One of the main emphasis to the game, though, is multiplayer. Tumblestone supports local LAN or online matches. However, there never seemed to be anyone interested in joining a match. Fortunately, you can select computer opponents to play against, and set their difficulty levels to provide you with a decent challenge. Multiplayer also gives you, the player, experience points, which only seem to be useful for trying to gain achievements.

    Tumblestone
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 92%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The art style is cartoonish and goofy. Each color of the blocks has a different, amusing, and animated expression. The characters you can choose, which include a mermaid and a sausage, have wacky designs. A colorblind mode also is available, which is a handy option to have. A variety of languages also are available. The music is catchy, but not particularly memorable. The sound effects are functional, but lack originality. There is no voice acting to speak of. The controls are sharp and responsive, whether you're using a game controller or the keyboard.

    From a moral perspective, there isn't a lot to worry about. There are a few undead references – especially in relation to the Skull King – and some cartoonish violence between characters in the story mode. But there isn't any blood or gore, nudity, or language issues to be concerned about. This game is about as clean as they come, really, and quite fits the "E for Everyone" rating given by the ESRB.

    All in all, Tumblestone is an entertaining game that encourages frequent replay. The graphics are fun and the puzzles are challenging enough to keep the brain engaged, but not so frustratingly difficult as to discourage playing. For indie games as of late, the price of $24.99 may seem a bit steep. But for the amount of replay value, if you enjoy puzzle games it could very well be worth it. But if you're looking to enjoy it as a multiplayer game, you may want to bring some friends. 

  • Twisting Art (Android)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Twisting Art
    Developed by: Twin Castle Games
    Published by: Twin Castle Games
    Release date: June 12, 2020
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $1.99

    Thank you Twin Castle Games for sending us a review code!

    Twisting Art features over one hundred scrambled pieces of art that need to be placed back in order in a short amount of time. The abstract art is broken into fifteen segments that can be tapped to rotate them individually or in a group. The Normal Mode gives you roughly fifty seconds to solve it before jumbling the pieces up again. Have you ever played the game Perfection? If you find that game to be too stressful you’ll want to give this title a pass. Thankfully, there’s an Easy Mode that gives you a little more time to get through each level.

    The number of stars (up to three) you get depends on how quickly you solve each level. Puzzles are unlocked as you play so there doesn’t seem to be an incentive to aim for stars unless you’re a perfectionist. Since I solved many of the levels in the nick of time, I have no interest in revisiting them.

    Twisting Art
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Multiple difficulty levels; good background music
    Weak Points: The abstract pictures make this game challenging; not much time to solve the puzzles
    Moral Warnings: None!

    If the re-arranged pictures were recognizable like photographs or famous works of art, solving the puzzles would be much easier. Instead, the puzzles are all abstract and hard to discern their proper alignment. If you’re playing on Normal Mode turning the pieces one too many times may cost you the level. There’s not much wiggle room for mistakes.

    The game’s interface is easy to use and I like the color palette. The completed levels are highlighted in gold, teal, or brown depending on how well you did. The unavailable levels have a padlock on them. The levels unlock as you play so you cannot skip ahead.

    Twisting Art
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay: 12/20
    Graphics: 7/10
    Sound: 8/10
    Controls: 5/5
    Stability: 5/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - -10/10

    Twisting Art is a stressful game as you’re under a lot of pressure to solve the puzzles quickly. The background music is pleasant and reflects the developer’s Spanish heritage. Though calming, it doesn’t help alleviate the aggravation of being one turn too slow before the pieces get shuffled all over again.

    I’ve never been a fan of timed events in games and this is no exception. I don’t mind piecing things together at my own pace though. Though it’s still timed, I much prefer the Easy Mode. If you’re easily frustrated or prone to having high blood pressure, you may want to skip this game. Other than those warnings, this game is suitable for gamers of all ages.

    Unfortunately, Twisting Art is not my cup of tea. I like to play games for relaxation and not to get flustered. I also like to play games at my own pace. However, if you enjoy puzzle games and don’t mind being timed while completing them, Twisting Art will keep you entertained for a bit. There’s a lot of content offered for less than $2.

  • Tyler: Model 005 (PC)

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    Game Info:

    Tyler: Model 005
    Developer: Reversed Interactive
    Publisher: Maximum Games
    Released: August 20, 2018
    Available on: Windows, Xbox One
    Number of Players: Single player
    Genre: 3D-action puzzle platformer
    ESRB Rating: E 10+ for Fantasy Violence
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you Reversed Interactive and Maximum Games for sending us this game to review!

    Tyler: Model 005 is a very well-polished single player 3D-action puzzle-platform game that can be enjoyed on either Xbox One or Windows. You play as Tyler, a miniature robot accidentally powered on in a thunderstorm in 1955. In this game you progress through a series of story-based puzzles that may help reveal the mysteries of the robot(s) around you, the environment, and your creation.

    To solve these puzzles, since you are but a miniature robot, it can be difficult to do certain things and reach certain heights such as the top of the stairs or the bookshelf. And since you can only restore your battery from light sources and the occasional “restore battery” item (which don’t appear too often) it makes things even more challenging. However, trying to figure out the answer (which can be different in the Windows version vs. the Xbox One version) will allow you to explore the environment and possibly find memories. Once you find a memory (what looks to be a blue orb), you will have the option to restore it. Once you do, you’ll see the words on the screen that Tyler is saying and he (you) will remember something about the past that relates to what you’re doing.

    Tyler: Model 005
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Good graphics; challenging, fun gameplay 
    Weak Points: Asks for language preference each time you launch; no way to find out controls in the main menu; challenging 
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence

    This is not true for all of the puzzles, but for some you may have to solve them in a certain order or find certain things before others.

    It is guaranteed that as you are trying to solve these puzzles you will encounter enemies. These enemies are different, however, to those you would see in other games. In order to complete one of the puzzles I had to fight an auto vacuum. More common pests, though, are ones such as spiders, wasps, beetles, ants, and rats.

    In almost every room in the house you are in, you will find tools that will allow you to customize your character’s looks and abilities. When customizing Tyler’s looks to your preference, you can change the head, face, accessories, hands, foot, paint job, and weapon to your liking. As for changing abilities, you just go up to the portal and exchange bolts for things like having more light exerted from yourself when your battery is full and how fast you move.

    The controls for this game are sterling both using keyboard and mouse and the gamepad, though with the gamepad more so. With keyboard and mouse you use WASD to move, both left and right-click on the mouse are melee attacks, and you can use C to draw your sword. Tab is to reverse time, which can be useful in some maneuvers. Double tap W to roll, F to interact with certain objects such as turning lights on or making a music box play, B to roll, and R to pick stuff up, for you can hold certain items such as coffee mugs and pencils. As for Xbox One/gamepad controls, use the left stick to move, right stick to move the camera, A to jump, right trigger to throw a cherry bomb (cherry bombs are very helpful when fighting bugs), and all of the other triggers are for melee attacks, but you can draw your sword with Y so that the triggers, except RB, will allow you to swing your blade at the enemies you encounter.

    Tyler: Model 005
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 90%
    Gameplay - 19/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls/Interface - 3/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    While focusing on the puzzles in the game, you barely notice the music. But when it gets to its climax, it can be quite charming and complimentary to the gameplay. Which, in fact, is pretty good. Even when I had to turn to YouTube walkthroughs for help, I still found the game to be very entertaining.

    The graphics, in every way, are superb. Everything, once you launch the title, is shown in great detail and color. If your monitor cannot support the highest of resolutions, you can adjust that of the game. The animation, too, was without bugs or lag. I found that the astounding graphics genuinely complimented the gameplay and story.

    Tyler: Model 005 has great gameplay, controls, sound, graphics, and a lovely story that made me tear up at the end. When you are hurt by an enemy, the edges of the screen go red for a moment, but that’s just about as far as moral warnings go. I very much recommend this title for anyone even if they aren’t looking for a 3D-action puzzle game like this one. I look forward to future games from this developer.

  • Typoman Revised (Xbox One)

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    Game Info:

    Typoman Revised
    Developed by: Brainseed Factory
    Published by: Brainseed Factory
    Release date: February 16, 2017
    Available on: Linux, macOS, PS4, Windows, Wii U, Xbox One
    Genre: Puzzle platformer
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence
    Price: $12.99
    (Kinguin Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Brainseed Factory for sending us this game to review!

    Typoman Revised is a 2D puzzle platformer that was originally released in 2015 on the Wii U and later came to PC and PS4.  In 2017, the Xbox One was the latest platform to add this game to their library.  For the reasonable price of $12.99, you can set off on a journey to save the world from doom and evil.

    The hero is comprised of the letters of the word hero and begins his journey rolling around as the letter O.  As the other letters/body parts are collected, he’ll be able to jump, climb, and swing across the various obstacles in his way.  The last body part to be assimilated is the Hero’s second arm.  Sadly, the enemies keep running off with it and it’s used as incentive to keep going.  A guardian angel like figure gives the hero some hope and initially shields him from danger.  Most of the time, the hero is on his own though and needs both agility and wits to survive the puzzles ahead.

    Typoman
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun and unique game concept
    Weak Points: Short amount of gameplay; graphics stuttering; there are many tricky puzzles, but walkthroughs exist!
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence

    Many of the dangers are words or even letters by themselves.   The spikes the hero will have to avoid are capital As.  The enemies are made up of the words doom, evil, gorge, and so on.  One of the most useful enemies is Lie who you can use to convert words to their antonyms. I love how good truly conquers evil in this game.    

    While there is a decent amount of platformer gameplay, there are more mind benders than anything.  So many dead ends have to be solved by combining letters and/or unscrambling words to conjure up a solution.  For example, if a door is closed due to a switch being off, you’ll have to build the word “On” to flip the switch.  

    The levels have a desolate and gloomy feel to them and scattered throughout are quotes of inspiration and hints to help solve upcoming riddles. As you collect quotes, they’ll be displayed in the game’s journal and if you miss some it’s pretty obvious when you read it.  

    Typoman
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 93%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    There are lots of ways to die in this title and I’m grateful for the generous amount of checkpoints provided in this game.  Besides spikes, there are stomping blocks, poison gas, fire, electricity, and syringes that will kill you if you’re pricked by them twice.  Since the hero is comprised of letters, his deaths are not bloody and he often disappears with a simple pop or puff of smoke. 

    In total there are three chapters and the prologue which teaches you the controls and basic gameplay mechanics.  If you’re decent at platformers and word puzzles you should be able to beat this game in a couple of hours.  I’ll be the first to admit that many of the word puzzles stumped me, but there are plenty of helpful YouTube walkthroughs available out there.   

    If you enjoy platformers and word puzzles you should definitely look into Typoman Revised.  This title is available on many platforms and since I experienced some stutters on my Xbox One Slim, I’d recommend the PC version for better performance.  Given the macabre environment and syringes, I agree with the E10+ rating and recommend this game for slightly older children.  

     

  • Ultra Hat Dimension (Switch)

     

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    Game Info:

    Ultra Hat Dimension
    Developed By: Kitsune Games, Ratalaika Games
    Published By: Kitsune Games, Ratalaika Games
    Released: July 14th, 2020
    Available On: Linux, MacOs, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
    Genre: Puzzle game
    ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
    Number of Players: 1
    Price: 4.99

    Thanks to Ratalaika Games for the code for this this rather interesting game to review!

    Ultra Hat Dimension is an interesting and fun, albeit at times annoying and simple, game. It's a puzzle game, set up in maze format, and the plot is that you are punched for wearing hats. Really? Yes! You are punched for wearing them, and the plot involves your character using the power of the hats to convince others to do the punching for them.

    The goal of Ultra Hat Dimension is to make your way through a variety of mazes, getting punched by hats, to make your way to the top of Spluff Palace and defeat the archnemesis who started this game. For the most part, it's pretty simple and straightforward. You first make your way to a key whilst getting punched by hats and then after you retrieve said key, you move your way to the door being punched by hats. Every level even has its own name, in addition to a number. However, I wasn't able to make it past Level 1-3, entitled 'Which Way, George?' without a walkthrough. In between levels, your character makes an observation on a screen about the various hats and the levels to break up the routine between levels.

    Ultra Hat Dimension
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Interesting concept
    Weak Points: Repetitive and boring
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence

    Controls are straightforward; the control stick moves your character. X is an undo button that lets you undo a mistake and Y resets you at the start of the level. A and B are not used in Ultra Hat Dimension.

    The graphics of this game are simple and colorful. It looks a lot like an old NES game, even though it was made with modern technology. The graphics are 2D and the perspective is top-down. It is played in real time.The music is simple and playful, but the sound effects are annoying. For example, on Level 1-3, the character's shout of 'OW' are often heard as the way forward is very difficult, if not impossible. I had to turn down the sound because it was so irritating.

    Ultra Hat Dimension
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 64%
    Gameplay - 10/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls 5/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence – 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content – 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The music, on the other hand, is fun and playful and fits the atmosphere well. The tracks are light-hearted and playful and add a lot of colorful music to a game. It is basically circus music.

    How does the game hold up morally? Well, it's pretty squeaky clean. There are no occult or sexual references or any foul language. If you want to get picky, I guess the hats punching you could count as violence, but this isn't a game I would hesitate about giving to anyone from a moral perspective. But from a plot perspective? It's simple and straightforward and not a lot of excitement.

    What else is there to say? This is a game to plow through maybe if you have some free time or a boring day, but it isn't very exciting. I was able to complete it in under 3 hours. It's not bad, and it's not anything that requires a warning for parents or that bothered my conscience. It just didn't hold my interest for any longer than a few hours.

  • Up and Down (PC)

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    Game Info:

    Up and Down
    Developed by: Konstantin Pilipaka
    Published by: Konstantin Pilipaka
    Release date: January 18, 2018
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $5.99

    Thank you Konstantin Pilipaka for sending us this game to review!

    Up and Down is aptly named for a game that only requires two keys/buttons to play. You can either use the up and down arrow keys or the W and S keys. There are two arrow buttons on the screen that can be clicked on or tapped if you have a touch screen. The rest of the movement is handled by what area your avatar lands on.

    The map consists of spaces with directional arrows that will send your avatar to the right or the left. There are also blocks in place that will give your avatar a much needed stopping point. You'll also find hazards like spinning blades that need to be avoided at all costs. You only have one life per level so choose your up and down movements carefully!

    Your goal is to collect all of the jewels on the map.  However, just because you’ve collected all of the jewels doesn’t mean you’ll beat the level.  Many of the maps have jewels with multiple colors and you have to collect all of the same color before moving onto the next.  If you mix and match colors, the number of points needed to clear the level will not be met.  

    Up and Down
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Easy to learn but hard to master; simple controls; over 100 levels
    Weak Points: The controls are not very responsive at times
    Moral Warnings:None!

    There are one hundred and one predefined levels and you have to unlock them one by one. It doesn’t take long for the difficulty to ramp up on this deceptively simple game.

    Only consider buying this title if you have a lot of patience and don’t mind dying a lot. Although your avatar meets its demise, it is done so in a non-violent way. This game lends itself well to mobile ports but as far as I know, it’s only available on PC.

    The graphics and menu interface are not high resolution or very detailed, but they get the job done. With the jewels on top of the directional arrows it’s not clearly visible which way the arrows are pointing. You have to really pay attention to notice.

    Up and Down
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Despite the controls being simple, I found that they are aggravating at times. Granted, I will take ownership of the majority of my deaths, but the inconsistencies are frustrating. On some turns I’m able to move several times at once and other turns I’m only able to move a couple of times. If there was a set/predictable amount of moves that would make this game a bit more enjoyable.

    The sound effects and background music are decent, but nothing to write home about. If you don’t like either of them, you can disable them in the options menu.

    In the end, Up and Down is a decent game. The asking price of $5.99 is reasonable and it’s bound to challenge and entertain people for a while. If you get easily frustrated, you may want to pass on this title though.

  • Winter Magic Factory (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    Winter Magic Factory
    Developed By: PixQuake
    Published By: HH-Games
    Released: August 13, 2019
    Available On: Microsoft Windows
    Genre: Match-3 Puzzle
    ESRB Rating: None Specified
    Number of Players: Single-player
    Price: $3.99

    First, let me thank H.H. Games for the review key.

    As we approach the yuletide holidays, we've been brought a holiday-themed Match 3 game by a developer well versed in making them. It doesn't break too much new ground compared to their other titles, but still learned some lessons from past efforts anyway. The main gameplay is like any other Match-3 title: Line up three or more matching items and they get cleared from the board. The items you can line up have Christmas holiday appearances like candy canes and pine trees, but otherwise if you played a Match-3 game of any sort before, all the changes are cosmetic only, this is no different from other games in it's genre.

    Graphically, the theme is Christmas related, as in, generic if well colored and animated themed; complete with Santa, pine trees, and all the other trapping of the holiday one would expect in the game and menus. Sound consists of typical soundtracks and sound effects typical to Christmas, including jingle sounds and theme tunes from the usual Christmas songs. Controls are about the same as any other desktop PC Match 3 game, using the keyboard and mouse.  

    Winter Magic Factory
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Much more stable compared to previous games by the same developer
    Weak Points: Doesn't have much other than classic Match-3 gameplay 
    Moral Warnings: None

    One area that is a pleasant surprise is that this game has little to no stability issues. Having reviewed previous games by the same developer, the engine has no Windows 10 related problems and there are no display glitches I noticed.

    Morally, this is not a troublesome game at all.  There are no issues with language, violence, or sexual content. The themes are as generically Christmas (in the secular sense) as you can get, and there is absolutely nothing anyone old enough to play a Match 3 game would find remotely offensive.

    Winter Magic Factory
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    If you want a cheap yet fun Match 3 game, you could a lot worse, and this is an enjoyable game of that genre for what it is. Morally, if a child is old enough to play a Match 3 game, they and anyone older would find this pretty wholesome.

    Again, it doesn't do anything unique, but it's not a bad holiday-themed Match 3 game either.

  • Worcle Worlds (3DS)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Worcle Worlds
    Developed by: Lightwood Games
    Published by: Lightwood Games
    Available on: 3DS, iOS, Wii U, Xbox One
    Release date: October 26, 2017
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of players: Up to two players locally or online
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $11.99

    Thank you Lightwood Games for sending us this game to review!

    My daughter and I enjoy word puzzles and have enjoyed many rounds of Boggle together. Worcle (word circle) Worlds is similar where you have to form words from preset letters, but it’s different since new letters are added until the goal is reached, or the letter bar fills up and your game ends. The 3DS touch screen works well, but you can also use the circle pad if you prefer.

    I wasn’t expecting a story to go along with a word puzzle game, but there is one. Worcle Worlds were once filled with letters and words that happily rearranged as they pleased until a vortex came and sucked them all away. The worlds are now lonely places lacking their previous vocabulary. If you can create enough words you may be able to restore Worcle Worlds to its previous glory.

    Worcle Worlds
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Challenging worlds and puzzles; battle mode is fun
    Weak Points: Other versions are free or cheaper
    Moral Warnings: Some naughty words can be made

    In total, there are ten worlds and each of them have different rules and challenges. While you can play any of the worlds in the local or online multiplayer mode, the single player campaign requires you unlock the worlds one by one. To unlock the next world you need to make fifty words in the current one. Once that goal is met, a time attack mode becomes available if you’re looking for an additional challenge.

    The first world, Opetus, allows you to form three letter words and the trickier letters are not available. Harder letters are slowly introduced until the full alphabet is in play. Then four letter words are mandatory. The next challenges include vowel shortages and missing common letters like E and S. If you can tackle all of these hurdles, you’ll probably find your name on the leaderboards. It was fun comparing the scores between my daughter and I. One of her scores beats mine by one point! The bigger the words you form, the more points you’ll get. Bonus points are also awarded for clearing out all of the letters.

    Worcle Worlds
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Forming words with random letters is not easy. I like how the level menu keeps track of the best word used in previous sessions. It’s a bit awkward when those words include lick and queer. I was able to form other eyebrow raising words like tit and tits. Arranging cuss words with the random letters is easier said than done in this title so I’m not sure if it’s possible or not. The closest I got was the word shot, but I didn’t get credit for that one for some odd reason.

    Each world has its own theme and music. My favorite backdrop was Sampana with the falling leaves in the background. Kalnas’ falling ash with the volcano in the background looked pretty good too. The visuals didn’t blow me away, but they get the job done. The music is decent and there is a fair amount of variety there too.

    Overall, Worcle Worlds is both fun and challenging. It’s best enjoyed in multiplayer so tell your friends about this game if they love word puzzles. The price on Nintendo’s eShop is $11.99 which is quite a bit more than free iOS version with in-app purchases for removing ads. If you have an iOS device it may be worth checking out there.

  • Word Maze by POWGI (Vita)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Word Maze by POWGI
    Developed by: Lightwood Games
    Published by: Lightwood Games
    Release date: December 17, 2019
    Available on: PS4, Vita
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of players: Single-player
    EXRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $7.99

    Thank you Lightwood Games for sending us a review code!

    I have played Word Maze previously on the Switch, Wii U, and 3DS as part of the Word Puzzles by Powgi collection. With 120 puzzles to solve, it warrants its own standalone game that’s now available on the PS4 and Vita gaming systems. Lightwood games is one of the few developers still publishing games for the retired Vita system. Another nice feature is that this title supports crossbuy so you only have to buy it once to play on both systems (PS4 + Vita).

    The first three puzzles serve as a tutorial to teach you how to play the game. It’s basically like a Word Search but every letter is used and the words must all chain together in a maze-like fashion. If you don’t know where to begin you can press the left and right triggers to see a list of all the words to find. That hint feature is very handy indeed!

    Word Maze
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Crossbuy; 120 puzzles to solve
    Weak Points: Cheesy puns at the end of each category
    Moral Warnings: None, some of the puzzles have Biblical names!

    There are several categories to choose from and you can play them in any order. Each category has several puzzles to solve and you’ll be timed on how long it takes you to complete them all. Some of the categories are pets, dog breeds, reptiles, musical terms, Roman Emperors, Bones, and more. There are many name-themed puzzles like boys' names, girls' names, famous Michaels, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Biblical names.

    After completing each section, you’ll be treated to a silly joke or pun. For example, after completing the herbs and spices section I got: “My friend is dating a girl named Rosemary. I don’t know what he season her.”

    Word Maze
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    It doesn’t take too long to complete each puzzle. Some are more complex than others. The background music will loop often and you have the option to disable it if you find it annoying or repetitive.

    The visuals are simple and get the job done. The more complex puzzles have smaller font, but I was able to read everything just fine on the Vita’s small screen.

    This title is rated for Everyone by the ESRB and I didn’t see anything morally concerning in this game.

    Word Maze is a fun title that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Especially ones that love mazes and word finds. The asking price is reasonable, but more expensive than puzzle books found at your local dollar store.

  • Word Puzzles by POWGI (Switch)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Word Puzzles by POWGI
    Developed by: Lightwood Games
    Published by: Lightwood Games
    Release Date: October 25, 2018
    Available on: 3DS, Switch, Wii U
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you Lightwood Games for sending us this game to review!

    We reviewed the 3DS/Wii U version of this game in 2016 and enjoyed it with exception of the Amiibo support. You can read our review of it here. The Switch version is not included with the cross buy and there is a deluxe version of the game available for $19.99. The deluxe version comes bundled with all of the puzzle DLC packs saving you $1.99 buying them individually.

    The standard version of the game has 480 puzzles that are broken down into six game types:

    Word Maze: It looks like a word search, but it has themed words connected together to form a maze. The hint system will reveal the words used, but you still have to determine the path!

    Mixups: Find the three similarly-themed words in a jumble of letters that you can only use once. The hint system will only reveal the first letter of the words you’re looking for.

    Word Puzzles by POWGI
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Challenging puzzles; cross-buy (3DS & Wii U)
    Weak Points: Some of the puzzles will be too hard for kids; no cloud save
    Moral Warnings: The word 'hell' is used

    One Word: It’s a word search with only one word to find. It sounds easy until you realize that the word search is made up of only letters in that word! Solve many of these word puzzles to complete a quote from a famous person. The hint will reveal the word you’re looking for but finding it will be tricky!

    Flowers: A flower with two letters in the middle needs to have pairs of letters added to the petals to form six-letter words. Each pair of letters can only be used once! There are no hints here; you’ll have to keep going until all of the letter groups are properly matched.

    Circles: Find the missing letter to form words from the letters in three connecting circles. The hint system will reveal the first letters of each word and the theme connecting them all.

    Crossovers: Choose the missing letter that completes both connected words and use those letters to unscramble a word with only one clue! There are no hints here and I really could have used some.

    Word Puzzles by POWGI
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 5/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    There are various themes for the words including dog breeds, states, colors, clothing, and so forth. Unfortunately, in some cases, the theme is not revealed until you have completed the puzzle. Many of the puzzles can be good learning tools, but some of them can stump those with college degrees. My girls enjoyed working together to solve puzzles.

    Puzzle games in general don’t need stunning visuals. With that said, some of the word searches for shorter words had larger and blurrier fonts than ones for longer words. Everything else looked fine though a little more color wouldn't be a bad thing.

    The music in all versions of the game is upbeat and pleasant to listen to. The docked Switch/Wii U background music has more bass and my home theater took advantage of it nicely. If you’re not fond of the music it can be disabled along with the sound effects. The 3DS version of the game supports StreetPass.

    Overall, Word Puzzles by POWGI is a cute and challenging game that may be too tough for younger players. Content wise it’s pretty clean though one of the word puzzles used the word 'hell'. My favorite game mode was One Word so I could decipher and learn quotes from people like Adolf Hitler, Jerry Seinfeld, Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and many more. Puzzle lovers should check this game out, but if you’re not a word puzzle person, then you’ll be better off parting with $9.99 elsewhere.

  • Word Puzzles by POWGI (Wii U/3DS)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Word Puzzles by POWGI
    Developed by: Lightwood Games
    Published by: Lightwood Games
    Release Date: February, 11, 2016
    Available on: 3DS, Wii U
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you Lightwood Games for sending us this game to review!  

    Lightwood Games specializes in word games and their latest offering is the Word Puzzles by POWGI bundle which is available for both 3DS and Wii U.  No matter what platform you purchase, you can play it on the other platform without having to re-buy it.  Other than some music differences, the gameplay is identical.  I just wish Nintendo offered cloud save support so my devices could synchronize my progress.

    Both versions have 480 puzzles and they are broken down into six different game types:

    Word Maze: It looks like a word search, but it has themed words connected together to form a maze.  

    Mixups: Find the three similarly themed words in a jumble of letters that you can only use once.

    Word Puzzles by POWGI
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Challenging puzzles; cross-buy
    Weak Points: Some of the puzzles will be too hard for kids; disappointing Amiibo utilization; no cloud save
    Moral Warnings: The word hell is used

    One Word: It’s a word search with only one word to find. It sounds easy until you realize that the word search is made up of only letters in that word!  Solve many of these word puzzles to complete a quote from a famous person.

    Flowers: A flower with two letters in the middle needs to have pairs of letters added to the petals to form six-letter words.  Each pair of letters can only be used once!

    Circles: Find the missing letter to form words from the letters in three connecting circles

    Crossovers: Choose the missing letter that completed both connected words and use those letters unscramble a word with only one clue!

    There are various themes for the words including dog breeds, states, colors, clothing, and so forth.  Unfortunately, in some cases, the theme is not revealed until you have completed the puzzle.  Many of the puzzles can be good learning tools, but some of them can stump those with college degrees.  If you get stuck, a hint can usually be revealed by pressing the left and right triggers simultaneously.

    Word Puzzles by POWGI
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 72%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 5/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Amiibo support is available in this game and you can scan in your Amiibos to have random puzzles generated with the data stored inside of it.  When using our MewTwo Amiibo a word maze was generated with several instances of my husband’s Nintendo ID (IBJamon).  Another time a Mixups game was generated and my husband and I could not figure out the three words with the available letters and no hint or theme provided.  In the end the Amiibo support was a disappointment for us.  Even without the Amiibo functionality, there’s still plenty to do in this game.

    Puzzle games in general don’t need stunning visuals.  With that said, some of the word searches for shorter words had larger and blurrier font than ones for longer words.   Everything else looked fine though a little more color wouldn't be a bad thing.

    The music in both versions of the game are upbeat and pleasant to listen to.  The Wii U background music has more bass and my home theater took advantage of it nicely.  If you’re not fond of the music it can be disabled along with the sound effects.  The 3DS version of the game supports StreetPass. 

    Overall Word Puzzles by POWGI is a cute and challenging game that may be too tough for younger players.  Content wise it’s pretty clean though one of the word puzzles used the word hell.  My favorite game mode was One Word so I could decipher and learn quotes from people like Adolf Hitler, Jerry Seinfeld, Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and many more.  Puzzle lovers should check this game out, but if you’re not a word puzzle person, then you’ll be better off parting with $9.99 elsewhere.  

     

  • Word Search by POWGI (Switch)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Word Search by POWGI 
    Developed by: Lightwood Games
    Published by: Lightwood Games
    Release date: March 29, 2018
    Available on: Nintendo Switch
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of players: Up to four online
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $7.99

    Thank you Lightwood Games for sending us two copies this game to review!

    Word Search by POWGI is a collection of 324 puzzles available on the Switch. You can play solo, online, or against other nearby Switch owners who have the game on their systems. While I was able to test out the wireless play, I haven’t been able to find anyone online to play against. Thankfully, there are plenty of puzzles to solve on my own.

    There are twenty-seven categories with twelve puzzles in each one. The categories range from animals to sports. The number of words to find in each puzzle varies as some of them have over twenty and others have closer to fifteen. The words can be forwards, backwards, and diagonal.

    Word Search by POWGI
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Good collection of word find puzzles; option of playing with people online or nearby
    Weak Points: Nobody playing online; touch controls 
    Moral Warnings: Some Halloween levels with monster and zombie themed word finds

    In the past, we reviewed puzzle games on the 3DS and the stylus was ideal for highlighting the found words. The Switch doesn’t have a stylus and I found out the hard way that using my finger as a substitute is not ideal. Fortunately, using the joysticks work much better. If you need to pause the game, the plus button will bring up the pause menu.

    You can resume unfinished puzzles and the game will keep track of your completion time for each one. If you’re not happy with your time, you can replay the puzzle to improve upon it.

    Wireless play is fun and allows you to complete a puzzle cooperatively. Whoever starts the wireless connection first will become the host and the second player will automatically join the game. The first uncompleted puzzle by either player will be selected and the match will begin. One player is assigned orange and the other player is purple. It's neat seeing cursors moving across the screen. As soon as a word is found by one of the players it is crossed off and tallied to the score of the person who found it. Though a score is shown, it's not mentioned at the end of the game and is treated as a cooperative effort rather than a competitive one.

    Word Search by POWGI
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 97%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    This title is rated for everyone and is safe for people of all ages to enjoy. The holiday category has some monster and Halloween themed puzzles. On the flipside, the nativity puzzle has Christian words to find including Jesus and his earthly parents.

    The background music is upbeat and pleasant to listen to. However, if you’re not a fan, it can be muted. The visuals are simple and effective. You don’t need astounding 3D visuals for word finds. I do like the puns at the end of each puzzle. After completing the computer themed one it had this one liner: “My keyboard got into a fight last night. Now it has a black I.” My daughter cringed when I told her that one.

    Even the puzzles I don’t relate with are still fun to finish. My son who recently joined Cub Scouts can appreciate the Boy Scout badges puzzle. As a relatively new guitar player I enjoyed the guitar themed one and the “finger picking good” pun after completing it.

    Puzzle lovers should consider adding this game to their Switch library. If you’re hesitant on parting with the $7.99, there is a demo available to try. However, if you’re hoping to find some multiplayer action, you may want to hold off for a sale. With over three-hundred puzzles to complete, there’s plenty to keep solo players busy for a while.

  • Word Sudoku by POWGI (Vita)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Word Sudoku by POWGI
    Developed by: Lightwood Games
    Published by: Lightwood Games
    Release date: October 23, 2018
    Available on: Android, iOS, PS4, Vita
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $7.99 (PS4, Vita), $1.99 (Android, iOS)

    Thank you Lightwood Games for sending us a review code!

    Since reviewing the Brain Age titles, I’ve learned how to play and enjoy Sudoku. Typically, it’s played with the numbers 1-9 and you have to place them in nine 3x3 squares without having any of the numbers repeat vertically, horizontally, or inside of the 3x3 square. In Word Sudoku, you’re working with nine letter words instead of numbers, but the same concept applies. If you’re dead set on playing with numbers, you can switch to them in the pause menu.

    Occasionally, the word will be spelled out verbatim, but that’s not always the case. Most of the time the letters up and down don’t form anything coherent. In total, there are two hundred and forty puzzles categorized in five different difficulty levels: Beginner, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Fiendish. The easier difficulty levels typically take me five minutes to solve and the harder ones are a little over ten minutes.

    Word Sudoku by POWGI
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Cross-Buy on the PlayStation Store
    Weak Points: Although it has double the amount of puzzles, it’s four times as much as the mobile version
    Moral Warnings: None!

    If you attempt to place a duplicate letter the game will turn it red and remove it for you. Placing incorrect letters is possible and you can press down the left and right triggers at any time to check and fix errors. There doesn’t seem to be any penalty for using this feature.

    The Vita version is convenient for occupying yourself on the go. While the touch screen is supported, it’s not very well optimized and I found myself relying on the controls more than using the touch screen. Performance wise, the game ran great and I didn’t encounter any issues playing it.

    Visually, this game is pretty simple, but puzzle games don’t need stellar graphics to be enjoyable. The canine mascot often tells a joke after completing a level. For example, his favorite movie is “Jurassic Bark.”

    Word Sudoku by POWGI
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 72%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 5/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The background music is pleasant, but can be disabled in the pause menu if you don’t like it. Alternatively, you can lower the volume on the Vita just as easily.

    There are no moral issues to report. I didn’t find any offensive nine letter words in the random sampling of puzzles I have played. I did earn trophies for completing a puzzle on each difficulty and for finishing the ‘Skeptical’ puzzle.

    Word Sudoku by POWGI was originally released for mobile devices with one hundred and twenty puzzles for $1.99. It’s currently free on Amazon if you want to try it out. While the price is reasonable for PlayStation users, it’s hard to not notice the better bargain elsewhere. If you enjoy Sudoku puzzles, this certainly is a good collection that’s bound to exercise your brain for hours. I’m not sure if playing it will improve your Brain Age score though.

  • Word Wheel by POWGI (Switch)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Word Wheel by POWGI 
    Developed by: Lightwood Games
    Published by: Lightwood Games
    Release date: June 6, 2019
    Available on: PS4, Switch, Vita
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of players: Up to four locally
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $7.99

    Thank you Lightwood Games for sending us this title to review!

    We have reviewed many POWGI based puzzle games and my kids love them. They are especially great on the go and come in handy while waiting at the doctor’s office or in line for a rollercoaster at Six Flags. With one hundred puzzles to solve, this $7.99 title is bound to keep your family entertained for hours on end.

    The goal in Word Wheel is to formulate words between four and nine characters long using the nine letters that comprise the Word Wheel. The only catch is that the letter in the middle of the Word Wheel must be used in each of the words formed. Upon discovering the puzzle’s nine-letter title, you’ll be treated with a goofy question or pun. For example, one them asked if it’s the s or the c that’s silent in scent.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: 100 challenging word puzzles; local multiplayer
    Weak Points: No hints
    Moral Warnings: Inappropriate words only count as bonus words, not official solutions

    Before beginning each puzzle you’ll be shown how many words can be found in it. Some puzzles have less than twenty words while others have more than one hundred and twenty! As you solve the puzzle the game will keep track of all of the 4,5,6,7,8, and 9-letter words you have found and will even show you the last submitted word for reference. Some of the words formed could be considered inappropriate and if those words are valid, they will count as bonus words, but will not be counted toward solving the puzzle. The number of bonus words are tallied. You can leave and resume puzzles without worry of losing your progress.

    If you get stumped, there isn’t a hint feature to assist you. You can pick the brains of people nearby or ask them to join you in a cooperative or competitive local game. Up to four players can jump in if you have enough Joy-Cons handy.

    Word Wheel by POWGI
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The visuals are simple and clean. The text was clear and easy to read on the Switch’s screen. Not surprisingly, this title is quick to load and ran great.

    The background music is peppy and fitting. It was neither memorable or annoying. Since I mostly played this in public, I often muted the sound as a courtesy.

    If you enjoy word puzzles, then Word Wheel is certainly worth looking into. It’s family-friendly and has a lot of puzzles to keep you stumped for a while. I have yet to fully solve one! Since there is no hint system, your best bet is to play this around others and wait for solicited and unsolicited help. Just like a game of solitaire, people can’t resist providing you with your next move!

  • WordsUp! Academy (3DS)

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    Game Info:

    WordsUp! Academy
    Developed by: CoderChild
    Published by: CoderChild
    Release date: May 12, 2016
    Available on: 3DS
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
    Price: $2.99

    Thank you CoderChild for sending us a review code.

    The 3DS eShop has an abundance of educational games. This edutainment game from CoderChild promises unlimited hours of fun and thousands of words to create.

    In WordsUp! Academy there are six game modes to select from.

    Story Mode: Here you will challenge the Academy's brightest minds, one by one. Battle to form more words in two minutes, and receive their approval.

    Versus Mode: Select one of the Academy's members and play solely against them. You can even upload your scores to an online leaderboard.

    WordsUp! Academy
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Thousands of words to make; Six different modes to play; Online leaderboards.
    Weak Points: Opponents are incredibly difficult; No music for cutscenes.
    Moral Warnings: Normally I'd say no issues, but certain word combinations were a bit strange (Arsed, Assed)

    Free-Play Mode: This mode allows you to customize your battles against a single opponent. You can add more rounds, adjust the round time, and even the difficulty of your opponent.

    Classic Mode: This is the original! This is all about how fast you can come up with words by yourself. Every correct word adds a little time to the clock.

    Blitz Mode: Definitely the most frantic mode of them all. Every 30 seconds the letters you can use will change. This mode also allows high scores to be uploaded to a leaderboard.

    Relax Mode: No time, no pressure. This mode allows unlimited time to form words, and is a great way to get faster at the game.

     

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 98%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 9/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Gameplay is extremely simple in WordsUp! Academy. The player and the opponent must use the random set of seven letters they start off with to create as many four or more lettered words. The top screen shows all the words that can be possibly be made, albeit with only one letter revealed. Each mode allows slight changes to the gameplay, but remains consistent throughout.

    Graphically, things look cute and the characters have a chibi-like aspect to them. Surprisingly, 3D has been incorporated, adding a nice layer of depth to the top screen. The music is also extremely relaxing. This helps to sink away hours trying to make as many words as you possibly can before your brain melts away. Much of my time with WordsUp! Academy was spent in Relax Mode. The calming music and removal of a time limit really made this mode incredibly enjoyable. Though, in Story Mode, the lack of music in the cutscenes is rather jarring and it feels rather empty without any sound playing.

    There's an incredible amount of challenge to this game. The randomness of each game creates tension. I was caught off guard my first few games, and I found myself failing to see basic words that could be formed. At $2.99 this is basically a steal. The six game modes certainly provide many hours of replayability. Younger players will also benefit from simply being able to learn word spelling and critical thinking. I highly recommend WordsUp! Academy to parents and those who like a good word puzzle game.

    -Kyuremu

  • Wordsweeper by POWGI (Switch)

     

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    Game Info:

    Wordsweeper by POWGI
    Developed by: Lightwood Games
    Published by: Lightwood Games
    Release date: August 8, 2019
    Available on: Android, iOS, PS4, Switch, Vita
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $7.99

    Thank you Lightwood Games for sending us a review code!

    If you ran a version of Windows prior to Windows 8, chances are that you have stumbled onto the classic game, Minesweeper.  Windows Vista included an updated version, but the classic from the 90s holds a place in the hearts of many.  If you have yet to play Minesweeper, it’s freely available (with in-app purchases) on the Microsoft Store.  Your goal in Minesweeper is to locate and mark the deadly bombs by using number clues on nearby squares.  One wrong click and it’s game over.

    Though Wordsweeper does not contain any bombs, it does have clues to which letters can complete words in the adjacent squares of the crossword puzzle.  If a selection is completely wrong it will highlight it in red to indicate that there is a conflict.  It won’t always correct you, so don’t rely on that.  There is a handy error checking feature that will let you know if you have gone astray and will even fix it for you if desired.
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: 120 puzzles of varying difficulties to solve; error checking
    Weak Points: Mobile version is much cheaper
    Moral Warnings:None!

    In total, there are one hundred and twenty puzzles to solve and they are available in four difficulties (beginner, easy, medium, and hard).  The time taken to solve the puzzles is recorded, but you can replay them to improve it.   After completing each puzzle, you’ll be subjected to a cheesy pun or a one liner joke.  My favorite is “The thief that stole my diary recently died. My thoughts are with their family.”

    The length of the words vary and the three letter words are much easier to solve than the longer ones.  There is a hint option, but I haven’t found it very useful.   It just seems to highlight a random square.  When you begin a puzzle there’s a menu with a quick tutorial and button commands.
    Wordsweeper by POWGI
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Visually, this game is pretty simple.  The interface is clean and intuitive.  The letters and words are easy to read and use, even on the Switch’s portable screen.

    The upbeat background music will sound familiar to those who have played previous titles from Lightwood games.   

    Like other titles from this developer, this game is family-friendly and fun for puzzle-lovers of all ages.

    Before arriving on the Switch and Playstation Network, Wordsweeper by POWGI was released on mobile platforms and is still available for iOS users for $2.99. The Google Play version seems to have disappeared.  It’s a shame that the mobile versions are much cheaper for the same amount of puzzles. If you don’t mind paying more than double the cost of the mobile version, the $7.99 console game is sure to entertain for hours.  

  • World of Art: Learn with Jigsaw Puzzles (PC)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    World of Art: Learn with Jigsaw Puzzles
    Developed by NowakGames
    Published by NowakGames
    Released on June 18, 2020
    Available on Google Play and Windows
    Genre: Puzzle
    ESRB Rating: None
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $12.99 on Steam, free on Google Play

    Thank you NowakGames for sending us this game to review!

    World of Art: Learn with Jigsaw Puzzles is a puzzle game designed with the sole purposes of relaxation and discovery. The player will put together famous artworks piece by piece while listening to relaxing classical pieces, and learn about the artworks they’ve completed along the way. Almost everything is customizable, so they can change the colors to match their preference. Piece rotation is an optional feature which drastically increases the difficulty of the puzzle.

    The soundtrack comes with seventeen songs, which can each be looped or shuffled. It is free to obtain and download on Steam. When I was trying to complete a puzzle, I often found myself lost in the sound of it as I worked. It reminded me of my great grandma’s house, with its tidy, decorated shelves and old architecture. The sound effects, on the other hand, consisted of one clicking noise that only took a few minutes to get very annoying. I ended up turning the sound effect volume down to zero as a result.

    There are 348 puzzles in World of Art, and each one has a preview, covered by a lock. Puzzles have to be manually unlocked. Locks are received by completing puzzles, and the player can unlock any puzzle they wish. I counted down the rows, which have three puzzles each (on my screen, at least), and multiplied from there. Each one is unique in concept and execution, as well as time period, artist, and nationality as a result. All of those details about a piece's creation are listed underneath it, and the player can choose to take a quiz on the various pieces. Said quiz has nine questions, and the questions vary each time it is taken. Players can only try their hand at it three times a day, maximum.

    World of Art: Learn with Jigsaw Puzzles
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Tons of puzzles (348, to be exact); relaxing music in the background; can customize almost everything to suit personal preference
    Weak Points: Pieces glitch in and out of each other; dramatic spikes in puzzle difficulty level (12pcs, 48pcs, 300pcs); sound effects are annoying (but can thankfully be turned off)
    Moral Warnings: A small number of paintings depict scantily clad people; some paintings have fully naked individuals; a few violent scenes are shown

    There are also daily quests which are all variants of solving puzzles. They have three slots to solve the highest difficulty, two slots to solve the medium difficulty, and one slot to solve the easy difficulty. Completing these quests earns the player points, which have no clear purpose other than the leaderboard, which shows the top 1000 players. The puzzles can be searched for by artist, by painting title, or by time period.

    There are a few different options for the user to choose when they go to solve a puzzle. The first option is the difficulty. The options are for 12 pieces, 48 pieces, and 300 pieces. There’s another option that increases difficulty as well, and that is the option to have the pieces randomly rotated. The mechanics for rotating a piece are to double-click on it, and they only go clockwise. Sometimes, I would try to rotate a piece, it wouldn’t work, and when I tried to rotate it again, it rotated two turns. This was an incredibly annoying bug.

    It took me about three minutes to complete a 12 piece puzzle with piece rotation on, ten minutes to complete a 48 piece puzzle with piece rotation on, and 2 hours and 23 minutes to complete a 300 piece puzzle with piece rotation off. I turned piece rotation off for the 300 piece puzzle, because I know it would have taken me forever and a half to complete it otherwise. Piece rotation doubles the amount of points the user receives when a puzzle is completed, and point values are listed in the difficulty. Three stars reside above each painting, and one is filled for each difficulty the player completes.

    World of Art: Learn with Jigsaw Puzzles
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 83%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - --3.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    When the right pieces are placed next to each other, they click into place and can’t be taken apart. However, I’ve learned that they only click together if they are the right orientation. Another thing I’ve noticed with the puzzle pieces is that sometimes the places where pieces connect to each other glitch through other pieces around or on top of them, leaving either said connector visible when a piece is covering it, or a piece with the connector covered by a piece below it.

    As the user is completing a puzzle, they can choose what background the puzzle pieces are on. This can be done from anywhere in the game. When they decide to leave their incomplete puzzle, their progress is saved. While working, they have the option to zoom in and out of the space in order to get a better view of the art they are working on.

    One would think that a game about solving jigsaw puzzles would be completely clean, but that is not necessarily the case. A small amount of paintings happen to feature scantily clad individuals, and a few even have fully naked people. A small number of others depict violent scenes.

    Overall, World of Art: Learn with Jigsaw Puzzles has a nice concept, and an efficient way of carrying it out. However, the UI and controls could use some improvement, and I would recommend keeping the less safe for work paintings away from younger audiences. A game like this is perfect for people who immensely enjoy piecing together jigsaw puzzles, but it's not something I would personally enjoy. If you love puzzles, but don't want to spend $13, there is a free mobile version on Google Play that you can download and play.

    - Kittycathead

  • You Must Build A Boat (Mac)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    You Must Build A Boat
    Developed by: EightyEight Games, Ltd.
    Published by: EightyEight Games, Ltd.
    Released: June 4, 2015
    Available on: Windows, macOS, SteamOS/Linux, Android, iOS
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of players: 1
    Price: $4.99 (Steam), $2.99 (iOS, Android)

    It would be tempting to begin every sentence of this review with "you." But EightyEight Games, Ltd., already did that in their promotional material. However, I'm sure you would like to learn more about this game – otherwise, why did you seek this review out?

    There's all sorts of treasure out there along the river! But in order to travel the river, you must build a boat. Your character, which looks a little bit like Indiana Jones, begins in a desert area and travels through pyramids in order to collect enough treasure to change his humble raft into a decent boat. Once the boat is large enough, you sail on to the next area and repeat the process until you have a boat worthy of respect!

    Exploring the areas, collecting treasures and battling creatures are the substance of the game. This is done through a match-three style game. In the large grid that dominates the majority of the screen are a variety of squares, each with an icon. By sliding the columns or rows, you can line up three, four or five of a kind. If you match swords or staves, you can damage a monster. Lining up shields provides a defense against damage for a brief time. Matching up keys allows you to unlock chests. Matching crates can occasionally grant you items that can be used against enemies. Finally, matching power and mind squares earns you power and mind points respectively, which can be used to purchase monstrous crew members for your boat.

    With each run, you must choose at least one quest to accomplish. These can range from defeating a certain creature, making a certain number of matches, enduring for a set length of time, or other types of quests you might expect from an RPG-lite game. Each quest earns you a prize of some sort – often a new crew member or creature that you can recruit. Once you complete all the quests in an area, you sail on to the next. 

    You Must Build A Boat
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Interesting approach to the "match three" puzzle genre; great soundtrack; addictive replay value
    Weak Points: Sometimes frustrating quests; retro graphics are sometimes unclear
    Moral Warnings: Undead and demonic references; one level takes place in Hell; magic use; main character kills creatures

    There is no way to die or lose in the game. Your character moves to the right through the areas you're exploring. Running into a chest or a creature will halt the forward progress and that portion slides to the left. Taking damage from creatures or traps moves it faster to the left. If your character is forced off the screen, then the run is over. If you've completed at least one quest, you collect the rewards and return to your boat. If you don't complete any quests, you can try again, or return to the boat empty-handed. 

    At the boat, you can consult with your crew members to increase the strength of your attacks or defenses, recruit some of the monsters you've captured, or sell some of the items you've discovered. Recruiting monsters can add to your overall statistics, and make it a bit easier to explore for treasure in the area you're in. While these do add a few role-playing game elements to the match-three game, you don't have a lot of control over your stats. As long as they go up, you'll do better. 

    The controls are nice and responsive, and only require the mouse. While I haven't played this on a touch screen, I would imagine that those with mobile devices would have an even easier time with the game mechanics. This game is apparently a sequel to 10000000, which has been reviewed on this site here. Since that review focuses on the Android version, the controls for the portable version of You Must Build A Boat will be very similar to the one in that review.

    You Must Build A Boat
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 79%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 7.5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The graphics and music are distinctly 8-bit retro in style. In fact, my wife even commented that it sounded like early Mario games. Although the creatures lack detail, it's easy enough to tell what's happening on the screen, and the sounds clue you in as to what's happening as well. The lack of detail of the creatures actually works out to be a good thing – your first companions appear to be a zombie and a skeleton, and there are many undead you'll encounter, as well as have the opportunity to recruit to your team. The music is very catchy and changes with each area, so there's a decent amount of variety to the tunes as well.

    In addition to the presence of undead, there is violence as well. However, there isn't any blood, and defeated creatures simply collapse into a vague pile of pixels. The main character can use magic spells and attacks on the foes. Late in the game, the player adds a priest or cleric to the ship's crew, and can offer sacrifices of gold, strength or mind points to "gods." In addition, one of the levels takes place in Hell, complete with demons and rivers of fire, but there wasn't any Satanic imagery that I found.  I didn't come across any other language issues to be worried about, either.

    All in all, You Must Build A Boat is an entertaining title and a fun time waster. Although it can get frustrating to complete the more difficult quests, they aren't impossible, and it's quite satisfying to move on to the next area. The game also includes several achievements to obtain, including a couple secret ones, so the replay value is high. If you enjoy puzzle games and a retro feel, then it's time for you to follow the advice of the game's title: You Must Build A Boat.

     

  • Zen Bound 2 (Mac)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Zen Bound 2
    Developed by: Secret Exit Ltd.
    Published by: Secret Exit Ltd.
    Released: November 16, 2010
    Available on: iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows
    Genre: Puzzle
    Number of players: 1
    Price: $4.99
    (Humble Store Link) 

    There is a song in the Sound of Music called "My Favorite Things." One of the singer's favorite things is "brown paper packages tied up with string." If Maria von Trapp enjoyed tying other things up with string, then perhaps Secret Exit Ltd. would have just the game for her.

    Zen Bound 2 is an interesting conglomeration of ideas. The focus of this cross-platform game is to tie things up. This is done in a soothing atmosphere designed to help the user relax. As bizarre as it sounds, somehow it works well.

    The player is presented with a variety of wooden blocks carved into different shapes, such as elephants, birds, or even laser guns. Some of the objects pay tribute to other things, such as the Energizer Bunny or the first level of Donkey Kong. One end of a piece of string is tied to a nail hammered into the block of wood. The player needs to move the mouse – or rotate the tablet, if on a portable device – in order to wind the string around the wooden block. As the string touches the block, the surface will be painted. Once 70% of the shape is covered, the player can touch the string to another nail to complete the minimum requirements and earn a flower. However, additional flowers can be earned if the player continues to wind the string around the shape until 85% to 99% of the block is painted. These earn two and three flowers, respectively. This is easier said than done, since the physics in the game are pretty slick, too. The string will slide along slopes depending on the angle of the wooden block, so careful thinking about how to manipulate the object is crucial, especially near the later challenges. 

    Zen Bound 2
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great graphics; soothing music; many objects to tie up; original gameplay
    Weak Points: Can get repetitious
    Moral Warnings: Yoga references

    The more flowers are earned, the more puzzles are unlocked. There are more than 100 puzzles in the game, and 11 achievements on Steam, so the game provides plenty of longevity. The graphics are sharply detailed and interesting, with a reflective sheen as the player turns the block. There is an occasional issue with clipping, where it appears that the string actually cuts into the block. Fortunately, this rarely affects the gameplay. 

    The music is soothing and fits the overall atmosphere. The sound effects also are pleasant, with the occasional creak as the string is pulled taut against the wooden shape. They also provide audible cues, including little pops as paint balls burst, or gentle chimes when certain goals are achieved. Although the game can get frustrating at times, the atmosphere helps to take the edge off the irritation. The soundtrack could be a good addition to anyone who likes calming electronica. 

    Zen Bound 2
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 98%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The only real problem is that, before long, the gameplay could feel repetitive. Zen Bound 2 is best played in short doses of time, perhaps while trying to relax or calm down from a more exciting or frightening game. Some of the achievements are very difficult, such as obtaining 100% completion for every object. 

    There is little to be concerned about on the moral front. One collection of puzzles features a variety of humanoid figures in various yoga poses. That's about the extent of anything that might be of concern to parents or Christians (and most probably wouldn't mind at all). 

    Zen Bound 2 is an interesting puzzle experience in small doses. It can provide a nice challenge and exercise your thinking skills while presenting a soothing atmosphere. The $4.99 price is reasonable for the amount of content it offers, and if it can be obtained as part of a sale or a bundle, it's an even better bargain.

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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