When I was younger, I used to play a game where you had to guess and spell words in order to progress through levels and doors. Being both educational and fun, this game had always stuck in my head, unfortunately, the name hasn’t; Letter Quest: Grimm’s Quest Remastered has a very similar feel to it. Using words to fight enemies might be an unusual concept, Letter Quest does it surprisingly well, managing to be both a fun and interesting game, as well as maybe teaching you a word or two along the way.
Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC
Developer: Bacon Bandit Games
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
Release Date: 8 April 2016
Price: £7.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Developed by the rather fun sounding Bacon Bandit Games, Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered sees you jump into the spelling shoes of Grimm, a little grim reaper type character who is scouting the local area for a pizza place. His journey to find pizza takes him through all sorts of dodgy areas, including castles and graveyards, but sadly this is where the extent of the story ends. Whilst the game doesn’t need an in-depth story to be fun, including a more thorough one might have made the game just that little bit more appealing. It doesn’t though, and luckily manages not to suffer too much because of it. The aim of the game is to travel through each of the short levels you are given, when you come up against an enemy or an obstacle, you’ll be given a little grid of jumbled letters, your job is to spell a word. Basic letters like some of the normal vowels A,E,I,O do the least damage, there are two more levels, with letters like Y,B,V higher up, and finally more challenging letters like Q and Z, earning you the most damage.
While the premise of Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey might not appeal to everyone outright, the gameplay is surprisingly fun. A thorough grasp of the English language is a must have, of course, as there are no clues or hints as to what words you could make from the grid. Offering you meaning to each of the words you spell is a nice little extra, don’t be surprised if you find yourself spelling out some words you never knew existed. The game changes from challenging to easy in a matter of grids, where you may be able to spell JOUSTING on one grid, the next you may be left with a smaller word like ATE. The game challenges you to not only spell long and impressive words, but also keep an eye on what letters you might be leaving for the next word, and not catching yourself out by leaving next to nothing. All the letters you use are replaced though, however, there is no guarantee what might turn up next time around.
In order to make things that little bit more helpful, you will get crystal letters show up every once in a while. If you manage to use these in a word, you’ll be given a buff or a power for the next couple of turns, which can vary from healing to extra damage and even a shield to absorb some of the damage given to you. These are definitely handy, so you’ll be wanting to use these special letters whenever they show up. On the flip side of the coin, certain monsters will have powers which affect some of the letters on your grid. Poison letters will hurt you when you use them, stone letters can’t be used at all. There are also more of these to come across, such as whirlwind letters and repetition letters, these will take over your board if you aren’t careful. Whirlwind letters and repetition add more of a happily accepted challenge to the game, and if it becomes too much of a struggle to spell a word from these, you can use a turn to reset all of your letters, which usually always serves to get you out of a jam.
The monsters themselves range with everything from evil bunnies to colourful ghosts, each has a name and fun little bio about them. These little touches dotted about the game add humour and make you feel like that extra little bit of care and attention has been paid, because who doesn’t want to know why the monster’s surname is Dave?. Different enemies cause different damage, some have powers as mentioned before, but others also have a special requirement to them as well. Sometimes this works in your favour and other times it doesn’t. For example, a ghost may not be damaged by words with less than 4 letters in them, whereas others may take double damage from words with both an I and an E in them. It is simply the luck of the draw as to which requirement the monster you come up against will have, and you have to use your word knowledge in order to change your spelling skills to do the most damage possible. When monsters are not standing in your way, you’ll probably hit a gem pile where the bigger word rewards you with more gems or a treasure chest, which challenges you to guess the word in a number of turns using the letters, ala hangman.
The aforementioned gems will come in very useful to you in your journey, as a store presents you with lots of options for spending them. You can upgrade your health, armour with other aspects unlocking as you progress through the levels. You could buy health potions, special books, that give you benefits like extra gems or more damage for certain letters, or even buy and upgrade new weapons. The price of everything gradually goes up the more you buy them, and you can decide between putting more money into the damage or defence side of things. You can come back to this shop in between every level, so you don’t need to worry about saving up your gems too much. Levels can be repeated as much as possible, with a reward at the end as well as for defeating enemies, opening chests and smashing gem piles. You are almost given too much freedom and choice of purchasing at the start of the game, I felt a little overwhelmed, unsure what to purchase or upgrade first. The levels themselves are done in such a way that replayability is naturally included, you’ll be playing each short level at least 4 times through if you want to complete the game 100%.
Earning stars as you progress through levels is the name of the game here, with each level offering 4 stars overall. Play once and beat all the enemies, a second time within a set time limit, the third time will see you fighting boosted enemies, and the fourth time is a special round, which sees overpowered enemies with special requirements. The first three stars should largely see you untroubled, but the final star of each level might pose you with some problems until you have improved your weapon and skills a little bit more. The potential for replayability is huge, and the short time of the levels will ensure that going through them again doesn’t feel like a chore. Accompany this with an endless mode, which sees you fighting enemies until you die, then there’s plenty of hours of fun to be had here, if you can put up with the music, which starts off fun before gradually becoming annoying.
Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered is a cute and fun game, both to play and visually. The cartoon-esque style fits perfectly with the game while serving to be both enjoyable and educational at the same time. While the game certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, those who like puzzle or word based games will be right at home here. With only minor niggles, such as lack of story and music that gets gradually more annoying over time, Letter Quest is thoroughly enjoyable to play, ideally in short bursts. Even if word games are not your first choice, I would highly recommend giving Letter Quest a go. For the price, it’s hard to fault, and you might even learn a thing or two along the way.