Formulaic Review
iPhone App
FREE! Buy now!

Formulaic Review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on February 28th, 2014
Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: LETTERPRESS WITH NUMBERS
Share This:

Remember Letterpress? Replace letters with numbers and we've got Formulaic.

Developer: Milton Moura
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Playtime Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

Formulaic is a Boggle-style-meets-territory-control game exactly like Letterpress, except with numbers. That could sound overly reductive if it wasn't almost 100% true. While the game concepts underlying Formulaic are literally lifted from a popular, well-liked game, it is unfortunate that Formulaic ends up feeling notably sub-par in addition to being derivative.

For the unfamiliar, playing Formulaic is a strictly multiplayer experience. Players both play off of an identical grid of tiles, tapping individual items to combine them into a logical string. In Formulaic, players must string together an equation with these tiles. Once the equation has been submitted, the tiles used for that submission award one point per tile used to the player and change color to mark them as used, and any tiles surrounded by a single color become unavailable for opponents to earn points off of. After all of the tiles have been used at least once, the game ends, and the player with the most tiles of their own color wins.

Now, if I replaced every instance of "Formulaic" and "equation" in the paragraph above with "Letterpress" and "word" respectively, it could fit into a review of Letterpress perfectly, yet I don't think as highly of Formulaic as I do of Letterpress. This is mainly because replacing letters with numbers fundamentally changes the way the games play out, and Formulaic's striking similarity to Letterpress only really serves to point out why the latter is superior to the former in almost every way.

By replacing letters with numbers, Formulaic makes it much easier for players to score big and end games early. I even ended one match by using all but one tile on my second turn, because it's pretty easy to look at all of the duplicate numbers on the grid and create an equation like this: 1984576-1984576+2=3-2+1. While doing something like this is conceivable in Letterpress, it would most likely take a perfect board and someone with an awesome vocabulary to pull it off, where I found it was relatively easy to make strings like this in Formulaic on any given board. I do have to admit that the first time I pulled moves off like that it felt pretty good, but now I just feel like I was exploiting a rather large hole in a poorly balanced game.

Beyond being shoddily balanced, Formulaic can also be frustrating to play because the elegant aesthetic design taken from Letterpress doesn't control as well; making it feel more clunky that it actually is. At the end of the day it is a turn-based, asynchronous multiplayer game that involves tile tapping, so the controls being a little off isn't a huge deal, but it certainly is noticeable.

Overall, Formulaic is a disappointing game because it's built upon a promise that we've already seen delivered in spades. I'll hold out hope that there's some balancing that can be done to Formulaic to make it less exploitable, but until then, I'll be sticking with Letterpress.

iPhone Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

Formulaic for iOS screenshot 1 Formulaic for iOS screenshot 2 Formulaic for iOS screenshot 3
Share This: