W.E.L.D.E.R. for iOS review

So, you like a wordsearch. And you get satisfaction from clearing a Tetris row. And you relish games that slowly but oh-so-surely become more challenging over time. And you have a thing for steampunk interfaces. Well, you’re going to love W.E.L.D.E.R.

At its core, W.E.L.D.E.R. is a wordsearch. You create words of four or more letters by swapping in nearby letters. So, for example, you have the letters PUSN nicely lined up. Tap S and then N and the two letters change positions, forming PUNS. When this happens, the letters vapourise, you earn points, and, Tetris-like, any letters above them drop down. You can also swap letters that aren’t in the combination you’ll eventually create. Instead, choose one of the eight letters that surround the letter you want to swap. Additionally, there are wooden “blank” letters you can double-tap to create any letter.

So far, so ho-hum. Now, for the twist. You’re required to create a specific number of words per round and are given only so many initial swaps to do the job. You earn additional swaps by forming new words. The longer the word, the more points. There are also ‘special’ letters. Some are simply worth more points because they’re harder to use, but others can’t be moved, some have a gold sheen that makes them worth more, some multiply the word’s score, and others are completely locked down.

As you move up through the levels, you are required to form more words with fewer initial swaps. In addition, you’re provided with harder letters.

Balancing this is the ability to form words in different ways as you progress. For example, as you move up through the game’s levels, you earn the right to form words from a backward string, as well as place the last letter of a string at the front.

There isn’t a single reason on earth to slap a steampunk interface on this thing, except that it looks very cool. But the developer didn’t stop there. Just as unnecessary-yet-lovely are the ambient sounds that whoosh and tick along in the background.

Words With Friends players have to venture outside the app to confirm words. With W.E.L.D.E.R., all the words you create appear below the main play area. To look up the definition, just tap the word. If the definition is in the game’s built-in dictionary, it appears. Otherwise the game reaches out to the web. So, not only do you get the satisfaction of creating words out of apparently nothing, but you can learn new ones.

OUR VERDICT

Taken altogether, W.E.L.D.E.R. is addictive, instructive, and a pleasure for the senses. If you have the slightest interest in word games, you should own it.

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