Developer: Hexahedria Entertainment
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

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

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Trying to come up with a new spelling game seems like it would be hard. Maybe not as hard as turning lead into gold, but fairly hard nonetheless. Wordchemy isn’t a dazzling reinvention of the word search game, but the few solid tricks it does pull off make it a modest success.

In Wordchemy, a grid full of random letters are displayed on screen and players have to swap them around to turn them into words. Sounds pretty normal so far, but players will notice the first gimmick as soon as they try and fail to string a word together. If a letter is swapped without a word forming, it decays into a red state and cannot be moved again. This puts pressure on the player to carefully consider their choices as mistakes only make the board more difficult to navigate. This also makes the game slightly slower-paced compared to its less-punishing contemporaries.

Luckily, if players are able to spell longer words they are rewarded with special letters like ones that don’t atrophy and others that can be turned into whatever letter the player chooses. One even destroys all of the useless red letters effectively giving players a clean slate before reaching the end of the level. All of these options give the game a cool, strategic hook.

However, the overall presentation of Wordchemy is a bit rough. The neon art style is both bland and garish. The ads are super obtrusive and the controls occasionally decide to stop working for unknown reasons. At least the freemium elements aren’t too bad, and the extra retries and the ability to expand the dictionary are actually both pretty nice yet unnecessary bonuses.

Wordchemy is a good choice for a free word game. It’s unpolished but its core is just fun and unique enough to keep that from completely bringing it down. It’s not alchemy but it can still be a little bit magic.

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