App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Zach Gage is sort of a household name in mobile games at this point. He's responsible for great titles like Sage Solitaire, SpellTower, and Ridiculous Fishing. Typeshift is Zach Gage's latest release, and it's a game about making words by arranging letters. It's not particularly complicated, but this simple premise is flawlessly executed across a few different game types, making it a must-have on your phone.
In Typeshift, you are given word puzzles involving a set number of letters per word. In each letter slot is a column of letters that you can slide up and down. Your goal is to slide the columns of letters into place along a center line to create a word. It's really as simple as that.
Most of Typeshift's puzzles are some variation on getting you to find multiple words within a set of columns, albeit in different ways. Some puzzles–like the game's Daily Challenge–simply ask you to make a word using each letter in each column at least once. Then there's Clue Puzzles, which feel like a new version of a crossword puzzle. In Clue Puzzles, you're given a list of clues for words to make that you have to slide to make and then tap on the corresponding clue to submit your answer. Between the two modes, the Clue Puzzles are my favorite, though both modes are super fun.
Typeshift's simplicity and elegance makes it seem like a game someone must have made before. Designing games around finding and making words has been a thing since well before video games, after all. In recent years though, most of these games have focused on competitive elements, where there are specific win and lose conditions on puzzles. Typeshift ditches these mechanics in favor of an experience that really lets you play with words without worrying about being punished.
As a result, you don't need to be a wordsmith to play Typeshift. The game gives players freedom to experiment and learn about words as they try to solve puzzles. Whenever you create a new and unfamiliar word in Typeshift, you can double-tap on it to pull up a definition right there in the game. It's a neat addition that makes discovering new words an actual educational moment.
The real thing that makes Typeshift such a joy to play is how well-made it is. The game is littered with amazing little design touches–like the blocking out of letters when you can no longer make words with them–that make the whole experience feel completely natural.
Some of Typeshift's polish is somewhat compromised in its purely free-to-play form as it does serve ads between rounds if you have not paid for the game. Thankfully though, the ads disappear as soon as you make any in-app purchase, whether that's new puzzle packs or more hints.
The bottom line
Typeshift is an incredible package because of how sleek its puzzle formula is. It's not a mechanically dense game, and its puzzles are simple variants on word games that have come before it. That said, the way these puzzles are designed and presented makes Typeshift not only a fantastic word game, but the only word game I ever want to play.