Letter Quest is a game formed by two-man indie studio Bacon Bandit Games. It is very much an RPG-Scrabble hybrid and gives a greatly unexpected twist to the usual word games. But in what way?
The idea is simple enough. The player takes control of the character Grimm, and later on Rose, on a quest for pizza. Okay so it’s not your usual RPG type goal but it is a goal none-the-less. It is no simple trip to Dominos however, as Grimm will need to conquer many enemies on his travels, each one slightly more difficult than the last and to do this the player has got to spell words out of the lettered tiles provided in order to cause damage to the enemies in his path. The amount of damage dealt is based upon the length of the word used and the specific letters within the word. For example, simple words such as cat or road may be easy to find from the tiles given onscreen and will provide enough damage points for enemies early on, however they won’t really suffice for any of the later levels. For these you are looking to spell words with the more valuable Scrabble letters such as Q, X and Z, however unless you are strictly on a diet of the English dictionary, these words aren’t always the most obvious to find!
One thing that struck me quite early on with Letter Quest was that whilst there was an end goal I was supposed to achieve and I was aware that I was guiding the cute little Grimm to his beloved pizza, the story wasn’t really all there. Whilst there are small comic style strips that unlock throughout the game, they don’t really provide a story, instead just giving little snippets of information that feel more like a summary of what I had just done rather than a story that I could follow.
The gameplay however did raise my opinion of Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey. The game is comprised of 40 levels to conquer, but this is no easy task. In order to complete all of them, you need to use RPG style mechanics such as item levelling, potions and a LOT of grinding to get to the end. With each enemy slain and each level conquered, Grimm earns coloured gems which are used as the currency within the game. These gems can then be used to buy upgrades for your character such as increased health and damage or better armour, or books and specials that are very much reminiscent of perks in more traditional RPG’s. Potions can be used for raising health when in battle and clearing all bad or cracked tiles from the board; remove them you must, as along with enemies, bad tiles can also cause damage to the player and make finding that ever so rare 1 hit kill word even harder to come by. This is where the RPG elements come into Letter Quest, changing it from the usual word game into something a bit cleverer. After the first few levels the store really comes into play and I found myself cherishing every shopkeeper that popped up on my travels. Indeed, from around level 5 or 6 I found myself hoping that the little chaps would come along next instead of the enemy, if only so I could buy the much needed potions to ensure I was kept alive until the level end!
It doesn’t take long though for your gems to start being in short supply and to progress you will find that you desperately need a max health upgrade. Grinding through previously completed levels is something that is inevitable. With that in mind no one enjoys constantly playing over the same things all the time and thankfully in Letter Quest you don’t have to as each stage has four challenging ways to play, giving it that much needed variety. Levels in the game have four stars that can be achieved for each and after collecting 30 of said stars the ability to play as Grimm’s charming side kick Rose is unlocked.
The first star in each level is obtained by simply beating each of the enemies and reaching the end…simple enough and by far the easiest star to get. The next one available sees you needing to do the same thing but with a timer attached. As if finding long and eloquent words wasn’t difficult enough, now you have a timer which increases slightly with each level. The third obtainable star however is where things start to get genuinely difficult as these are special challenges with harsh requirements. You’ll need to beat a level without using half of the alphabet or play whilst afflicted by a curse seeing you only deal damage to your enemies with 3 lettered words. Something which later on is near impossible due to the damage output these words give. Finally, we have the fourth and final star, but this is only achieved by true masters of the English language! This is a crystal star and for it to be obtained, all enemies are raised to elite status and come with their very own special conditions. Earning this star really is the toughest challenge I have faced in any game for a long time and even with upgraded weapons, health and a shining suit of armour, one mistake can still see you bested and broken by the simplest of enemies…and that is just the first level.
There are also a series of quests to complete throughout the game. There are 70 in total and these are presented as challenges more than traditional RPG style quests. Including things such as using the letter ‘Q’ twice or firing out five poison tiles and so on, each quest completed gives the player extra gems for use in the shop. That in itself really does give the player a reason to go through the list and complete them all.
And if all that content isn’t enough, those English language supremos will be able to check in on the games ‘endless mode’. The aim here is to simply stay alive for as long as possible until little Grimm or Rose are defeated. Any gems earnt in endless mode however can only be spent in endless mode and cannot transfer over to the main game.
For those of you who aren’t completely sold on the gameplay experience fear not as Letter Quest is a well crafted and beautifully designed creation, from the colourful art style and cute protagonists to the soothing but tense dungeon-esque soundtrack that will have you humming along to the tune in no time.
So must you buy this game? Most definitely!
Bacon Bandit Games have brought a unique title to the market with Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered and for only £7.99 there is no reason not to pick up this little gem. Whether it’s your next impulse buy or a carefully chosen title to become immersed in, Letter Quest is a must buy that can be enjoyed by all ages.