Tumblewords looks like what would happen if graphic designers were given free reign over the game development process. The game is nothing short of beautiful in its simple and charming themes, which range from a soothing desert to a rocky dragon outpost. Unfortunately, the graphic designers may have taken up too much of this game’s budget, because the gameplay doesn’t live up to the standards set by the design.
The gameplay of Tumblewords plays like a combination of Boggle and Scrabble, wherein you find words on a board of shuffled letter tiles, with the help of a row of tiles that can substitute any tile on the board. This row of tiles cycles into the rest of the board each turn, which adds some challenge and strategy to the game. Points from your words help charge stars, which unlock special abilities like shuffling the board– but there is no bonus for filling all three stars or playing a game without using any abilities.
Each game allows 15 turns, and after the game is over, your only option is to play again. There is no progression of difficulty, no fast-paced mode, no plot to go with the themes, and no achievements to motivate replay value. High scores are recorded, but even these are restricted to your top scores and top-scoring words.
There is some potential for the game when it comes to multiplayer, especially if the developers add pass-and-play to serve as an alternative to asynchronous play via Game Center, which is currently the only option.
If you are a word game fan, you’ll probably enjoy the low-key challenge of Tumblewords, regardless of its multiplayer capabilities. If you aren’t a big fan of word games, on the other hand, even the game’s design doesn’t broaden its appeal beyond that niche.