The ‘With Friends’ series of games may be the most social apps some people use on their phones. These games are heavily addictive, especially since they take great advantage of the Notifications feature, alerting you when it’s your turn to play. They’re also engrossing. You might even go out of your way to increase your vocabulary, simply to get that high score. Depending on how many matches you have going on at once, you could spend hours pouring over your tiles. Scramble With Friends, the newest addition to this roster of online word games, is no exception.
Scramble With Friends is similar to the word-game classic Boggle, in which a grid of letter tiles is placed before you, and your task is to connect the tiles to form words. You can link letters vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. You can swipe across the tiles to connect them, or tap on each individual tile. You are awarded points for each word you form, and like Words With Friends, different letters are worth different points. For instance, using an ‘X’ tile will award you more points than a vowel.
It boggles the mind.
Scramble is divided into three rounds. The first round is classic gameplay, but the second and third rounds feature tiles with double and triple letter or word scores. Using these tiles to your advantage most often means certain victory. However, as each round is limited to two minutes, you don’t have much time to ponder your list of words.
You do have access to three power-ups, which will help you in your quest for domination. You can freeze the board, thus stopping the clock and affording you valuable extra seconds. You can also rotate the board, possibly revealing unseen words from different angles. Finally, you can illuminate words. You are given one power-up for free each round, but the second one will cost you.
Scramble With Friends uses the same asynchronous gameplay model as previous games in the series, so you and your opponent play in rounds whenever you have a spare moment, rather than both of you playing at once. If you don’t have any friends hip enough to be playing Scramble, you can always choose to play with random opponents.
Tally it up.
A new addition to the home screen is a stack of coins. These coins are used to play rounds of Scramble, as well as buy you one additional power-up. Your stack of coins is pretty hefty, and you’re awarded extra coins when you first start to play, but if you play too many games at once, you could find yourself halted until your coins regenerate. Thankfully, it takes under twenty minutes for a new coin to appear. If you can’t wait that long, you can always buy additional coins.
While Scramble is a worthy peer to the classics Words with Friends and Hanging With Friends, we have one minor complaint: the in-game dictionary. The only requirement for any word you find on the grid is that is must be longer than a single letter. Two-letter words run rampant in this game, and most often you can score a handful of them simply by swiping across the screen at random. It takes a bit of skill out of the game, and any player who learns the cheap ‘swipe at random’ trick could gain the upper hand on his or her opponent.
Other than this minor foible, Scramble With Friends is a terrific game. It’s a riot for any word fanatic and a fun alternative to those who have overplayed the other “With Friends” games. The addition of power-ups changes up the gameplay slightly, giving you a boost if you can learn how to use the power-ups to your advantage. While Scramble does offer a slight advantage to those who pay for additional coins, it’s not a big enough push to unbalance the game. If anything, the biggest problem with this game is the amount of time you will lose to playing it.