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Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
Developer: Bacon Bandit Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Family/ Edutainment

Graphics & Sound:

A game that charms mobile audiences comes to the console world. For better or worse, right? Weíve seen attempts to port mobile games before that fell pretty flat, mostly because what worked well on a small screen just didnít translate to the living room. In this case, thereís no loss in fidelity between mobile and console version. If you managed to avoid the cuteness of Letter Quest on every other platform, nowís a great time to jump on the bandwagon. Digerati (@digeratidm) and Bacon Bandits (@thebaconbandits) have an unstoppable franchise going here.

Think of Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered as a supercut of the gameís evolution across mobile and web platforms. After beginning life online and earning some early praise as a Flash game, it was rebuilt for modern platforms, so youíll find no jaggy lines or slow loading here. Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered looks like it could have been launched yesterday on Xbox, albeit with a throwback aesthetic reminiscent of the Arkedo Studio line of games for this same platform. We found ourselves dialing down the music after a while, but never got tired of the colorful characters and art style. Equally colorful descriptions of each character make what might otherwise seem like an endless stream of baddies more relatable.


Gameplay:

Letter Quest is to Scrabble what games like Puzzle Quest are to Connect Four, mashing up two familiar play styles and bringing classic offline games to a new audience. Thereís a built-in audience and a proven formula behind "spell to win" gaming thatís undeniable, and the developers have managed to add on a nice layer of story and character. Thatís not saying the story makes much sense, but when legions of evil and a pizza are involved, you know things are trending toward humor. Youíll spend most of your time helping Grimm battle monsters and conquer one level after another with his awesome spelling skills. Each level has a jumble of letters you can combine to form a word, which then becomes Grimmís attack. Bigger words or special letters like "Q" and "X" hit for more points.

The main story mode takes you through a series of levels, each with several variations that provide greater challenge. Once youíve beaten the game, thereís Endless Mode to keep you entertained, but the two arenít connected in the sense that you can grind your way to victory. Gems you earn in each of the main story levels can be used to buy upgrades and special items that buff up Grimm or confer special perks. Youíll occasionally run into merchants mid-level, forcing you to decide whether to spend or save your hard-earned money. Aside from letter jumbles, youíll also occasionally play a Wheel of Fortune-style game where you fill in blanks to successfully guess a mystery word.


Difficulty:

Grinding does play a part in helping you attain victory back in the main storyline, more so than on the mobile version of the game. Chalk it up to Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered catering to a console audience looking to get more bang for its buck, compared to the mobile audience used to a free-to-play game that starts out easy and then quickly ramps up. The difficulty level you choose up front determines a lot about how hard monsters hit, how much health they have, and how effective youíll be in your attacks. Attack power and defense, along with special weapons, can be tweaked over time by using the in-game shops, but the higher difficulty settings will definitely require some skilled spelling.

Most of the challenge comes from replaying each level with special conditions. Every level has a timed version where youíll need to beat all monsters before the clock runs out. After mastering those variations, you can step up to playing the level again with monsters that are stronger or that only take damage from certain word types. Itís not quite puzzle game territory, but close. Even good spellers are going to find it challenging when monsters only take damage from 4-letter words, or when certain letter combinations are banned.


Game Mechanics:

Judging Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered against its mobile counterparts shows a few pros and cons for the console. On one hand Ė and probably the biggest difference Ė youíre buying the whole game on console, rather than a free game with in-app purchases. Here youíll find that features are unlocked more logically as you play, rather than held up behind a paywall. Maybe as a result of this, the console version feels more challenging, but only by a smidge. On the cons side, itís definitely more intuitive to type words in on tablet or mobile than it is to navigate a letter jumble using the Xbox One controller. In fact, navigating letters with the controller is traditionally one of the worst things youíll do on a console, so itís surprising that the developers didnít get a voice-control option baked in for this version. Scope creep, right? Back on the pros side, itís cool to see definitions of all the words youíre entering, which makes this somewhat of a vocabulary booster in addition to a spelling bee.

We love reading and spelling and we love Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered. Itís incredibly easy to pick up and play or binge on, and Endless Mode keeps the fun going for as long as you want. Beating the main story and earning a star on all the special levels will keep you occupied for quite some time, and the only thing we could hope for in a sequel is an online and multiplayer mode. Highly recommended.


-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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