App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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The first thing you should know about Spelltower+ is that it’s not really a new game. The original Spelltower released back in 2011, but Zach Gage has gone back and enhanced this beloved word game with five additional game modes, new mechanics, and a lot of other little touches to make it the best version of itself it can be. In this fancy new form, Spelltower+ is immensely enjoyable, even if it isn’t your preferred type of word game.
Spell it out
In any given game of Spelltower+, you have to make words from a wall of letters on a 9x13 grid. Each letter takes up one grid space as a tile, and by tapping and dragging to connect nearby letters, you can combine them into words. Once you make a word, the tiles used to make it pop off of the wall, you get some points, and continue using all the remaining tiles.
The default mode in Spelltower+ simply has you combining tiles until you can’t anymore. In this enhanced version of the game, there are ten other modes where you’re combining words using slightly different sets of rules. The Bubble Puzzle mode, for example, presents some letters surrounded by bubbles that you have to “pop” by forming words next to them before you can use them to score. Also, each time you form a word, a new row of letters appears from the bottom.
No matter what mode of Spelltower+ you’re playing, you’re always basically doing the same thing, but it’s kind of amazing how different each game mode can feel. The default Tower mode is somewhat meditative as compared to the more strategic Puzzle modes or frenetic Rush and Blitz modes. With so many different ways to play, there’s almost assuredly some flavor of Spelltower+ that will suit you.
Beyond the various game types, the experience of playing Spelltower+ is just so pleasant. For a game that only has to display letters on screen, it has impeccable style and attention-to-detail. Spelltower+ is full of bright colors, fun haptic feedback, amazing audio design, and tons of other nice touches. One of my personal favorite details is the ability to submit words for “challenge,” which lets you try to add new words to the game’s dictionary. Upon challenging, your submitted word is checked using an online dictionary to see if you should really earn points for you more obscure submissions.
Words, words, words
Spelltower+ is a free-to-play game, though its pay model seems extremely reasonable. Without paying any money, you have access to about half of the game’s modes and receive pop-up video ads during play. If you pay $4.99, you unlock the rest of the game modes and all ads disappear.
There’s very little not to like about this enhanced version of Spelltower, yet something about Spelltower+ isn't as enchanting as I was hoping it would be. I think a lot of this has to do with the core of the game itself. I—for some reason—find the "wall of words" gameplay pretty stressful and daunting, to the point that there are times when I just quit out of sessions before making a single move. Even in its fancy new state, I think I still prefer Gage’s other word game, Typeshift. Something about the more focused nature of it is more appealing to my personal tastes.
The bottom line
Spelltower+ is a phenomenal repackaging of a great word game. Although it’s not my favorite, I can still appreciate the love and care that went into this upgraded version of it. The free version of Spelltower+ also offers plenty of game to satisfy any casual players, so it's easy enough to try that out and decide for yourself if it's the perfect word game for you.