Words With Friends was a great idea, but all it really did was repackage Scrabble. That’s a common occurrence in the App Store, so when a brand-new word puzzler hits the market, it’s easy to assume it will subscribe to the same set of rules as all the other word puzzlers. In the case of Word Wonders: Tower of Babel, convention is turned on its head.
This excellent head-scratcher from Dreamfab is a breath of fresh air. It weaves together the most addictive elements of RPGs and word games to create an exemplary mixture of tile-flipping goodness and level grinding.
Your quest begins at the base of a tower that encompasses five levels, for 50 word-flipping challenges in all. Each challenge finds you matched up against a different opponent and a starting board with a new word to get the ball rolling. The typical Scrabble rules and basics seem to apply, as you must build from the tiles laid out in front of you. There are no normal, simple point bonuses here to contend with– instead, you’ve got to be mindful of the symbols and magical imbuements on the tiles themselves.
Let me guess, you’re a Taurus?
You’ve got seven letter tiles on hand with which to whip up words, and each of those are rocking the same symbols, like skulls and bolts. These symbols represent potential damage that can be dealt or energy that can be earned. Staying mindful of each tile’s placement and maximizing possible combos is the key to victory. You’ll need to decide between dealing damage and storing energy for later, which adds a nice, layered strategy. But the roleplaying elements don’t stop there.
As you progress through individual challenges and the tower itself, you’ll be granted upgrades to health, maximum energy, and the types and potency of the potions you can create using alchemic recipes. Potions will often decide the winner of a duel faster than a few sets of words can. Potions will enable you to take on considerably more powerful opponents as well as extend your life force and augment your abilities.
You’ll nab a few of these concoctions after besting someone in battle, or by creating your own combinations using items collected through exploration and other battles. You can also opt to cast spells that use a bit of your energy.
Using spells, potions, and a combination of strategic letter placement, you’ll deal out damage in massive waves to your opponent. And though the beginning of the game may seem ridiculously simple, gradually the difficulty will dial up. If you’re thinking you’ll just breeze through with no problem, think again. But that’s part of what gives Word Wonders its charm, and what will keep you coming back for more even if you continue to fail. With such a robust set of options, it’s hard to keep away.
Aside from the quick-fire word battles, potions, and smattering of other content, you can utilize the boost board to upgrade your character however you see fit. You can play boost tiles earned throughout normal play (or purchase them) and augment your abilities or allow custom upgrades. It’s an intuitive system that feels rewarding, and it’s nearly as exciting to earn upgrades as it is to beat your opponents.
Word Wonders is a great game with little in the way of frustration or tired mechanics. Initially we did find some freezing in later levels, but it cleared up and everything was smooth sailing from there. Word Wonders is aesthetically pleasing, quick to start up, and packs a lot of value and fun. Put down your games with friends and try climbing this tower instead.