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Letter Quest Remastered (Switch) artwork

Letter Quest Remastered (Switch) review

"It's a quest. With letters. And presumably remastered. What more is there to say? "

I'd come up with a pleasant introduction for this review, but why bother? This is Letter Quest: a game about finding words from random letters. It's not a soaring epic or a game with wondrous environments or intricate level design or a vast array of cool ways to interact with the world. It's a quest with letters, so why get fancy about it?

Letter Quest tells the important story of a child grim reaper searching for some pizza... and that should tell you all you need to know about this game's presentation. It's cute, it's silly, and that's good enough. Likewise, the enemies are hand drawn and look ok, but just stand there with simple 2000s-era-Flash animations. But, of course, so what? Like the story, the enemies are cutesy, with punny names and silly descriptions. It's basic and pointless, naturally, but what else can you do with this concept (and why would you want anything more serious)?

Because, ultimately, the concept is nothing more than single player Scrabble. You get 15 tiles, and need to come up with your best word in order to damage enemies. Instead of points, longer words or using uncommon letters results in more damage to the bad guys. Each stage consists of fighting 1-5 enemies in a row, and you must get to the end before your hp runs out from their attacks (they just attack; no Scrabble for them). You get gems from beating these levels and can use them to buy equipment upgrades, potions, or special tomes.

To spice things up, enemies can also use various spells to mess up your tiles. These can range from making some unusable, or have them clone letters so that they'll take over your entire tileset if you don't use them quickly, or just turning letters upside down solely to annoy you. To counter all that, you can also get powerups from using certain letters, or can waste a turn refreshing your letters if you end up stuck with a cornucopia of Qs. Also, those tomes I spoke of can give you other nice attributes, like producing extra damage when words with double letters are used (meaning "GOOD" is pretty good, "BETTER" is even better, and "BEST" is worst).

So there is an attempt at variety here, but let's face it: it's all just looking at a group of 15 letters and coming up with the best word you can find. And this goes on for 40 different levels, all with the same approach. OK, so some have a Hangman minigame in the middle where you can get a bonus if you win, and some are boss fights against an enemy with tons of HP but often has a special attribute where it takes quadruple damage from words that are 6 letters long or ends in an E or whatever. But it's still the same thing! You can also play each of the 40 levels in 4 different ways to gain a total of 160 stars for maximum completion, namely the normal way, a speedrun (that is not very hard to finish in the time allotted), an extra rule applied like having certain letters banned, or a so-called ultimate challenge with enhanced stats from the enemies and other special rules added. But it's still just playing single player Scrabble.

OK, single player Scrabble with a few rounds of Hangman mixed in. Sure, there's plenty of variety in how that Scrabble works thanks to the special attacks from enemies or the various tomes you can buy, but it's still just the same thing. It's not like there aren't other word games that could be mashed in there as well. There could have been Boggle-based levels, or "try to find as many words as you can from the same set of letters" levels, or anagrams of long words, or whatever. It's somewhat disappointing that there was no desire to add any of these other possible modes, but perhaps the creators just wanted the core game the way it is.

If you limit the critique to the scope of the game as presented, there really aren't any flaws you can point to. Levels can be challenging early on, but are still winnable even without luck on your side. Sure, you'll end up overpowered if you try to do all of the stars, but the equipment and ability progression matches up pretty well to maintain an even difficulty throughout the main game, which is what you would expect. There's no skimping on the admittedly simplistic presentation, and the developers were nice enough to include complete touch pad controls as an option for handheld mode. There's even a lengthy list of stats and achievements you can look at, from listing how many times you used each letter to keeping track of your best words (apparently mine is "experiment"). There's even a special endless mode you can play, seeing how far you can get through an unlimited number of baddies until your health inevitably drains. So make no mistake, this game does what it does quite well. For that, I have no complaints.

But you still have to judge a game on its scope, and let's face it, this scope is limited. If you like looking at Scrabble tiles and coming up with words, then this game marries that approach to an RPG-like progression system well. If you don't, then of course this game is pointless. To be honest, I don't think it's worth it at full price, although I bought the game during a huge sale and don't regret it. It's something I play as a distraction while also doing something else; the game is simply too simplistic on its own for me to want to dedicate real time to it. But for what it is, that's ok.


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Community review by mariner (July 27, 2018)

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