Spell your way to victory in 'Letter Quest'

Spell your way to victory in 'Letter Quest'

If you’ve ever whiled away the hours playing word games like “Boggle,” “Scrabble,” “Bookworm” or “Words With Friends,” I’ve got another game for you: “Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered.”

To put it simply, it’s Scrabble meets turn-based RPG-style battles and now available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, as well as Android, iPhone, PC and Mac (through Steam), and Xbox One.

You play the part of a scythe-swinging chibi version of the grim reaper — the titular Grimm or his hireling Rose — and pit your vocabulary against the likes of ghosts, snakes and evil steroidal bunnies.

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Using a five-by-three grid of letters, you dole out the punishment by piecing together words, with the damage you deal determined by the length of the word, the rarity of the letters used and a variety of other modifiers — weapon upgrades, limited duration special boosts, etc. — you accumulate by upgrading your character along the adventure.

Meanwhile, the villains strike back either directly — knocking away at your hit points — or indirectly, by messing with your array of available letters. Such attacks are myriad: Options include converting an entire row of tiles into a singular letter, poisoning letters so you’re hurt if you utilize them, locking some in stone and rendering them unavailable, infecting them with a damage-limiting contagious plague, and so on and so forth. And, annoyingly, enemies can use their turn to heal and stave off your victory.

Also, combat isn’t always as easy as hammering foes by being verbose. Monsters may have various vulnerabilities to exploit or invincibilities to avoid. For example, one may take quintuple damage if your word contains the letter T. Or it could be invulnerable to all but four-letter words, or heal if you use the letter E.

Thus, awareness of the current rules and an element of strategy are often necessary.

The pace and arduousness of gameplay can vary, and not just because you pick from normal or expert difficulties — with the difference being the monsters’ hit points and abilities.

In Story mode, each stage offers four challenges — designated by stars — to overcome to fully clear it, though you can always move on to the next stage just by finishing the first.

The first star challenge has no time limit. The second is a race to beat the monsters before the clock runs out. The third goes back to no time limit but with special victory conditions. And the fourth, the “crystal” star, which you can only attempt if you’ve beaten the other three stars, pits you against much tougher monsters.

In between stages, you can visit the store and purchase a variety of character-boosting upgrades, change equipment and obtain health potions as well as ones that strip status effects from the letter grid.

The other mode is called Endless for a reason. You battle one monster after another until you fail and die, with the goal being simply to get as far along as you can. Your character and possessions from Story mode carry over, giving properly equipped players an edge.

I’ve played both the PS4 and PS Vita versions, and the controls on both are intuitive enough that competing even on the timed stages isn’t a dilemma.

Most importantly, the game possesses an extensive dictionary, so players should have little fear that esoteric words won’t be accepted, at least as long as they’re three letters or longer.

All-in-all, an addictive little game for those who like to work with words.

“Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered”
PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Android, iPhone, Steam
Price varies by system.
E for everyone.

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