Developer: Motionshift Studios
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

There’s a good game buried somewhere in Letterarium. It starts strong with a neat spelling mechanic that gets steadily more complex. Unfortunately, that goodwill is crippled by nearly game-breaking technical issues.

But let’s start with what works. In Letterarium, players are given a word to spell by tapping on a pile of spilled letter tiles. Rounds start off easy as players are given three-letter words to spell out of piles with more than enough duplicates of necessary tiles. Letters can be tapped in any order too, as long as the whole word is spelled out by the end. But the game steadily ramps up the challenge in clever ways. First, piles will get bigger and words will get longer. Next, letters in the pile will be upside-down and touching the wrong one will subtract points. Soon, bombs get added to the pile and explode as the clock starts ticking down. All this happens while tense players are then forced to spell the word from memory since the guide has been removed. By stacking all of these new tricks, along with some tasteful Batman jokes, the game keeps its relatively simple and basic gameplay feeling fresh and varied.

letterarium2letterarium3Unfortunately, much of that promise is lost under Letterarium‘s hobbling technical issues. The game’s interface has a clockwork visual vibe that is interesting in still screenshots but moves so slowly in action that it actually feels like a creaky old machine breaking down. All of these precious little gear spinning animations just needlessly delay the player from reaching the next puzzle. However, Letterarium‘s overall instability is by far its biggest technical problem. No matter what I tried – whether it was restarting the game, redownloading it, or restarting my entire iPad – the game would always crash around level eight, wiping out all the progress I had made.

Despite its flashes of fun, Letterarium is currently too unstable to wholeheartedly recommend. However, a few technical fixes could easily elevate it into something worth checking out.


Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, Reviews

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