The former Rockstar NY developers at Ayopa Games LLC have come up with a fun and interesting concept in W.E.L.D.E.R., which essentially takes two popular styles of game and combines them into something new under a metal-working theme. The two game types are the ‘matching’ style of gameplay, wherein you try to line up a number of pieces, matching in color or pattern; and the other is basically a crossword puzzle.
By swapping out tiles, you have to form words of four letters or more, either vertically or horizontally. Like in Scrabble, some tiles are worth more than others, though their value is typically reflected by their color, rather than the letter itself. There are also some tiles that serve as obstacles, including red tiles, which are too hot to touch, or rusted tiles, which can’t be moved and must have a word formed around where they are.
As you progress, you will also gain new skills, such as the ability to flip the order of several letters at once, to swap any two movable tiles on the board, or simply to move large chunks of tiles. In all cases, including the standard tile swapping, you’re only permitted a certain number of moves, though scoring well can earn you more. It’s all very fun and challenging once you get things going, especially when forming one word causes tiles to shift so that more and more words form in a chain reaction.
You must also be careful: one aspect the publisher boasts is the lack of a ‘submit’ button, which can backfire on you if you’re not careful; if you’re trying to form a particular word, arranging the tiles in the wrong order can cause another word to form first, thus shattering your plans. In addition, when playing on an iPhone, it is quite easy to accidentally touch and swap tiles you didn’t mean to, and there is no ‘undo’ button. With the rather limited number of swaps available, you really have to watch yourself.
Somewhat unfortunately, that’s all there is to it. Many puzzle games of this type, such as your Tetrises or Dr. Marios tend to offer up extra options or modes, like starting from a higher level after you lose. W.E.L.D.E.R. does not. You start from the beginning, you play, and when and if you lose, you start back over at the beginning.
This unfortunately also means that any new abilities you ‘unlock’ are eliminated until you reach that level again, and having your tools taken from you in such a way makes the game feel very restrictive. Some sort of ‘free play’ mode, that would simply allow you to form words, or at least have more access to the locked abilities would have been welcome.
Well, that’s an easy one.
W.E.L.D.E.R. does have some other features, though, including iOS 5 integration, which allows the game to be passed back and forth between an iPhone and iPad through iCloud saving. In addition, iOS 5 users have access to a dictionary, which allows you to easily find out what that word you accidentally formed means.
Incidentally, there’s no music in the game; all your ears are met with is metal-working sound effects. This isn’t especially annoying, but half the time we found no real inclination to keep the sound on.
Simply put, though it does have some nifty features (including posting your words to Twitter and Facebook), much of it doesn’t affect the gameplay. Instead, it feels as though much of what you might expect to come standard from a puzzle game isn’t here, as though they were planning to add it in a sequel or something.
W.E.L.D.E.R. is a good– albeit narrowly-focused– piece of work. Ayopa is running an introductory half-off sale right now, which takes some of the sting out of it, but even then, it still feels like the game could give you more for your money. Conversely, if you believe games these days have far too many options, then W.E.L.D.E.R. should be a can’t-miss choice.