App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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I am rather picky when it comes to puzzle games, particularly on mobile. I don't want a stream of endless, repetitive puzzles, and--unless you're seeking to make the "best" version of a classic puzzle type--you have to do something to mix up your puzzles or add something novel to make your game stand out. Otherwise, it's likely I'll walk away feeling like the experience is tedious. I was fully expecting to feel this way when starting Letter Rooms, but this little letter-rearranging puzzler managed to charm me with its varied gameplay and clever setups.
Letter Rooms is a game of anagram puzzles. Each challenge provides a hint and a set of letters to re-order to create the desired answer. In its most basic iteration, you'll just have a jumble of letters you can slide any which way you want, but some levels have immovable letters, ones you can tap to turn into other letters, and erroneous letters you need to "deactivate" to create the desired word.
The clues in Letter Rooms are mostly timeless trivia or wordplay puzzles, though there are some pop culture references sprinkled in as well. The entire game features 210 puzzles, and you can hop around to any of them you like at any time from the pause menu. If you don't do this, Letter Rooms simply boots straight into the last puzzle you were on and moves straight to the next one upon completion.
Mix it up
The first few puzzles of Letter Rooms feel really basic, but its clean and bright aesthetic held me long enough to get to the game's more interesting puzzles. I am a particular fan of how Letter Rooms sometimes cleverly mixes up starting letters to provide false answers to the clue provided. Not only is this a humorous touch that makes each new puzzle start a nice surprise, but it adds a layer of challenge where you need to disassociate the given letters with the fake answer before being able to provide the real one.
This trick--just like all of the mechanics in Letter Rooms--is used strategically where it makes sense and not just injected into every level. This is the real key to the game. Nothing feels wasted or arbitrary. Every puzzle uses the right mechanics to make for a nice challenge and satisfying conclusion. Sometimes this even means reverting to more basic mechanics in later levels when clues get more obtuse or ask for larger answers, which makes for an experience that seems designed for completion while being neither a pure grind nor cakewalk.
While there are some stumpers in Letter Rooms, most puzzles are solvable within a few seconds. With only 210 puzzles available and no other modes or leaderboards to speak of, you can be done with the game pretty quickly. It would be nice to see some kind of daily challenge or something, but otherwise I'm honestly glad Letter Rooms is the size that it is.
I could easily see a version of this game that really stretches the limits of its few mechanics while offering much more generic clues for the sake of padding out its length. So many puzzle games do this, and it's exactly what makes me tire of them. By sticking to the best stuff and not over-reaching, Letter Rooms is a better--though shorter--game.
The bottom line
Letter Rooms is a tight and clever puzzle game that understands that less is more. It feels achieveable to make your way through the full game, and it is satisfying to do so. Add to that a minimal but memorable design that makes it a breeze to pop in and out of play sessions, and it's clear to see why Letter Rooms should be your next puzzle game purchase.