Letter Quest Remastered PS4 Review
Publisher: Digerati Distribution Developer: Bacon Bandit Games Genre: Puzzle, RPG
Players: 1 Age Rating: 7+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
Letter Quest is a game in which words are your weapon, and I don’t mean cuss words either. Taking control of the Grim Reaper, you stroll your way through various levels, coming up against ghostly enemies, each of which have to be taken down with your vast knowledge of the dictionary, a game that Susie Dent, of Countdown fame, would demolish in seconds if she were attempting a speed run.
Letter Quest is a turn-based RPG and, upon approaching a lineup of ghost enemies who are probably just innocently waiting for the next slightly upgraded iPhone, your job is to create words from random letters from a tiled grid shown on-screen, these words are then used to defeat those enemies – that’ll teach ’em for abandoning the BlackBerry!
Comparable to Scrabble, each letter has its own value, with rarer used letters valued more than commonly used letters. Here though, instead of a number they are valued by colour, little dots in the corner of the tiles coloured either bronze, silver or gold, with bronze being the least valuable, and gold being the most. The more valuable you can make your word, the more damage you cause to an enemy, with your ultimate goal being to complete the level and reach the stack of gems at the end.
As well as enemies you’ll also come up against bosses, including creepy bunny bosses that look like they are competing for Mr Universe, and these bosses require you to know a wide range of words in order to defeat them. Whilst smaller enemies can be defeated with the use of basic words, the bosses have certain requirements whereby you can only use certain words to cause them damage. As an example, one boss wouldn’t take damage if a word was four letters long or less, and you can cause another boss quadruple damage if you use words with double letters, such as, uh…. ‘letters’.
To help you defeat these enemies you’ll of course find all the usual power ups and upgrades to help you improve your stats and defeat more difficult enemies easily. In order to upgrade you visit the shop and, using dropped gems you collect from fallen enemies, you can use these to buy a good range of improvements to your skills, including upgrades for your health and for your main weapon (a scythe), a reduction in how much damage you take, an increase in how much damage you deal out, and so forth. You can also buy health potions to use when you are in battle and need to regenerate your health, and you can buy a potion that helps restore broken letter tiles.
During a battle, as you use letters, more will appear to replace those letters, and sometimes letters will appear that have special abilities that will either help or hinder your progress. These can be broken down into ‘good’ tiles and ‘bad’ tiles, with the good ones helping you, and the bad ones obviously hindering you. For the most part the many good tiles will either deal bonus damage or help you regain some health, while any bad tiles will cause you damage, or will alter the tile grid in such a way that it will make it difficult for you to form proper words. An example of this is when tiles can duplicate themselves; each turn they will cause other letters to change to whatever letter is duplicating, and if it is a letter such as V, well, having a grid full of V’s will not help you defeat an enemy as it’s hardly a letter with many word uses. Of course if a grid becomes overrun by letters that you couldn’t even make up Welsh words with, there is an option to refresh the entire board for new letters, though this is at the expense of a hit from your enemy.
There is a story, though in all honesty with these types of games, it is lacking, but as you are controlling the Grim Reaper who attacks ghosts, I assume it has something to do with collecting souls…..? And the Easter Bunny…..? I must admit, I am not entirely sure; the story is probably the weakest part of the game and garnered very little of my interest, and how letters are incorporated into the story I couldn’t even hazard a guess. However, the presentation of the game is appealing, with the story being told comic-book style and with cartoony visuals and sharp colours.
Despite there being a lack of any sort of narrative, Letter Quest excels in its gameplay that is over 8 hours long. It is yet another example of a game that has a simple but addictive premise that can last for hours at a time, one that will also give your brain a good workout with its gradual progression in difficulty. As well as the gameplay there is lots to discover that will give you the incentive to keep playing. There are 70 mini quests for you to complete, which comprises of you completing small challenges during gameplay. There’s a section reminiscent of Hangman in which you have to guess a word by choosing letters, which rewards you with a power-up or potions to help you continue on your adventure. As well as the Grim Reaper you can also play as Rose Reaper. There are also Hard Stages for you to complete, that are separate from the main story, and you can go back and replay stages and choose other challenges to complete, such as completing a level within a time limit. There’s also an Endless Mode in which you continually defeat enemies to see how far you can get, and in the main menu you can view your statistics for the game. Other fun little touches include the definition of a word appearing beside the tile grid, adding some learning elements, and a humorous mini biography of each enemy when you encounter them.
Letter Quest is an example of how to mix learning with gaming and making it fun at the same time. Are there any faults? Well, as previously mentioned the story didn’t keep my attention, but the music also leaves little to be desired and sounds very repetitive. Despite there being different music in each level, it can sound rather monotonous and ear-splitting, like something you would hear on older consoles around the Amiga or Game Boy era, but given an HD makeover. I also mention that the definition of a word will appear by the grid once used, and even though this is an attempt to add some learning aspects to the game, the definitions can be vague. One word I used was ‘Jaw’ – when you think of ‘Jaw’, you will either think of the Steven Spielberg film, a Bond enemy, or, more likely than not, that it is a part of your skull structure. The game gives its definition though as “to talk at length; to chatter.”, and whilst this is correct, it is not the first thing most people will think of. This is a very, very minor nitpick, and most players won’t be taking any notice of the definitions anyway, but if there was to be a learning element, then I believe the definition should have been what the word is most commonly known for.
Overall, Letter Quest Remastered is a joyous game, one with much variation to keep things from feeling too stale. Some players may find the gameplay a little bit repetitive – move forward, use word to defeat enemy, move on to next enemy, and so fourth – and some players may also feel frustration when they find a very long word that will cause a lot of damage, only to find they are one letter short, though that’s all part and parcel of the gameplay. It is still a game that has oodles of personality with lots of variety and challenges for you to complete, adding much replay value, and its concept will appeal to older gamers and young alike, a great game that will get your grey matter working.