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Words of Wisdom Review

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Riddle me this, readers. “Earth rumbles, volcano erupts, smell of burning everywhere. Lava spreads faster than Arabian prized horse running”. What am I?

This is, word for word, one of the riddles that you will find in Words of Wisdom. The answer, you may be surprised to find out, is ‘Lava’, even though the word ‘Lava’ is in the riddle itself. We are as bemused as an Arabian prized horse. 

words of wisdom review 1
Words of Wisdom combines platforming with puzzles

If you’re going to call your game ‘Words of Wisdom’, you should probably tighten up your copy editing skills. But it’s the first and most glaring of a few issues in Words of Wisdom. This is a puzzle platformer with a cute idea that gets vandalised by a lack of polish and some frustrating puzzle designs. 

Words of Wisdom captures you and sticks you in a dungeon, only for a floating jester head to start tossing out riddles. It seems you need to reach the exit on each level, but that’s harder than it looks. The jester wants you to get there a certain way, and the only clue is in the garbled English across the top of the screen. 

Sometimes this is a conventional-ish riddle. But as you’ve already seen, they’re word-vomit. Vaguely related words are chundered onto the screen, and you’ve got to guess what option they relate to. Luckily, it’s multiple choice and you can guess as much as you want, so they don’t block you for long. 

Other times, it’s simple platforming. The jester takes a break and you just have to navigate some simple platforms to reach the door. Your guy has a gimmicky ability to telekinetically shoot up, left and right across the screen to grab and move objects, which comes into play on occasion. Grabbing platforms to drag them across the screen is a common Words of Wisdom trick. 

These sections are fine, we suppose, although it has an annoying habit of denying you the ability to jump if it thinks you’re in a tight spot. If you’re going to hit your head on a platform, then it won’t let you jump, which is against the platforming rules. We also experienced a touch of latency on the jump, so you can swandive to your doom on occasion. But death isn’t much of a bother, as the levels are completable in under ten seconds each. 

words of wisdom review 2
See that key?

More often than not, though, Words of Wisdom plonks you in a room, shuts the door on the other side of that room, and requires you to open it in a particular way. The only clue you have is the jester and, as per usual, it’s mistranslated gobbledygook. You have to piece together what it wants from you with the scraps you’re given. 

These really are hit and miss. For example, they are perfectly capable of delivering a solution that had us nodding with appreciation. A “noble sacrifice” was needed, so we telekinetically grabbed a spike and gave ourselves a lobotomy. The door opened and we were out of there. Another room wanted us to take a break. We stood there for a moment, expecting the door to unlock through inaction, but instead we had to press Pause. The door opened and we vamoosed. 

The problem is that they’re just as capable of being opaque or infuriating. One level effectively made everything pitch black, so we had to ‘guess’ where the platforms were. Bump-and-grinding through a dark room was about as fun as it sounds. Two more had us ‘counting the stars’ and ‘writing the name of the author’, but we still don’t know what we were meant to do. We brute-forced them both, as there were only so many possible solutions. 

In the latter’s case, the blame could be placed anywhere. Is it the fault of the poorly translated dialogue? Or is it poor puzzle design? Or is it our human error? Words of Wisdom is perfectly capable of all three, which means you’re in a clumsy limbo where you’re not sure if the fault remains with you. 

words of wisdom review 3
87, you say?

But we got there eventually. Falling and stumbling, we reached the end. But once we were there, we looked back and questioned whether it was worth it. Rarely did Words of Wisdom string together two or three levels that felt satisfying. Most of the time we face-planted into another half-baked puzzle, and buzzed about like a bee against a window. 

As it turns out, there’s a level-skip feature. It’s Up, Up, Down, Down, Up, Up, Right, Left, Left, Right, Y on the menu screen. We could have done with it ourselves. Consider it a gift, as there are definitely levels that will twist your melon and keep it that way for many minutes.

Words of Wisdom uses the word ‘Wisdom’ pretty loosely. It’s a game that feels like it’s been batch-imported into Google Translate, which is a problem when the resulting riddles are key to completing the levels. Words of Wonkiness would have covered it better. 

But even with a spot of editing, we wonder whether this puzzle-platformer would have been worth picking up. Its puzzle solutions are a fifty-fifty split between clever and frustrating, and we didn’t like those odds.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Some puzzles are genuinely clever
  • The art does a sterling job
  • Pumps out the achievements
Cons:
  • Text is extremely poorly translated
  • Riddles are garbled rubbish
  • Puzzles lean on infuriating solutions
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : Purchased by TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review)
  • Release date and price - 14 July 2023 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Some puzzles are genuinely clever</li> <li>The art does a sterling job</li> <li>Pumps out the achievements</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Text is extremely poorly translated</li> <li>Riddles are garbled rubbish</li> <li>Puzzles lean on infuriating solutions</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : Purchased by TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review) <li>Release date and price - 14 July 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>Words of Wisdom Review
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