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Roundout by POWGI Review

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In recent weeks, developer Lightwood Games have released their own spin on sudokus (Word Sudoku by POWGI) and wordseaches (One Word by POWGI) onto the Xbox Store; offering unique wordplay puzzles and, perhaps more importantly, easy Gamerscore. Here now is their third offering – this time a unique spin on crosswords by mashing them together with a word wheel.

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And yes, there is more easy Gamerscore on offer. But more on that later.

Roundout takes the concept of a word wheel – that is, where each answer can be found within a wheel of eight letters – and gives you a crossword puzzle to solve. There aren’t any cryptic clues in this crossword, simply that your answer will consist of anything between three and eight letters of the word wheel. The minimum word length on the puzzles will vary between three to five, but there will always be at least one word that uses the maximum eight.

Unlike other word wheels, there isn’t a letter that must be used each time you create a word. You have a choice of any letter and any word length, and that means a surprising number of words can be created.

And because there are no clues to the words themselves – a la the traditional crossword – the hint system in Roundout will only go as far as to give you the first and last letter of each word. This can be done by pressing the X button; each time you do so it randomly reveals a letter for a word you don’t currently have. The general helpfulness of this hint system varies: sometimes you could be struggling just as much as you were without the hints.

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It might sound a bit confusing at first, but have a go putting words in the crossword and it again becomes simple to understand, much like Word Sudoku and One Word before it. On the whole though, Roundout is the most difficult out of the three, though this depends on how varied and wide your vocabulary is. Often, I was stuck with a few remaining words simply because I had never come across them. Thankfully then, puzzles don’t need to be completed in one sitting, as you can drop out at any time and return to them later. I would however make a mental note as to which puzzles are half-completed, because the main menu doesn’t indicate this itself; it only highlights the completed ones.

Some words that can be found – for example, an anagram of the word ‘this’ – might not be best suited for a family friendly puzzles game, but Roundout doesn’t necessarily dismiss them completely. Instead, you can find Bonus Words; words that are perfectly valid, but just don’t fit in to the crossword puzzles. These could be, but aren’t limited to: swear words, plurals, American vs British spelling nuances, and more.

Similar to its predecessors, Roundout features the same unlikeable soundtrack, that can be toggled off in the main menu. It does also have another feature not seen before, the ability to toggle Dark Mode on or off. It doesn’t drastically change things, but rather than have a white background you can switch it to a darkish grey. There aren’t enough apps out there that use Dark Mode, something that I will shout from the rooftops until they all do, so it is great to see Roundout having one.

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This time around, there are 120 puzzles to complete in total. It may seem a lot less than the 300 Word Sudoku puzzles we had, or the 150 quotes to complete in One Word, but the puzzles in Roundout will generally take a bit longer.

That does mean that the 25 achievements on offer for Roundout are ever so slightly trickier to unlock, particularly if you want them all. It is still an easy completion however. To unlock them all you will need to complete one of each of the three, four and five letter minimum puzzles, find five bonus words in a single puzzle, complete a puzzle without using a hint or inputting an incorrect word, and find several specific words. The longest one to unlock will be for placing 500 words in total but that should take no longer than a couple of hours overall.

And yes, if you have played any of the other titles, you will be pleased to know that Roundout is again crammed full of puns.

Roundout by POWGI on Xbox by Lightwood Games is another successful and unique word puzzle game, and this time provides a decent challenge in comparison with others. It is still a little light on features – a problem across all three titles – but due to the nature of it, having a crossword-type puzzle up on the main screen of the house can offer interaction between family members. Indeed, when I was playing it, my partner would offer assistance by saying words I had not thought of, something not done so easily on Word Sudoku or One Word. With even more easy Gamerscore and something families can get involved with over the festive period, you could certainly do a lot worse.

Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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