Quick Look – Word Wise (#JustOnePercent 19/100)

Developer: Chandler Charbonneau
Release Date: April 1, 2021
MSRP: $3.99

There’s nothing wrong with trying to come up with the Next Big Thing, and I expect I’m going to find a lot of games over this project that are trying hard to be innovative or unique. Some will succeed, and some will fall short.

But there’s also nothing wrong with taking a time tested idea and doing it well. Word Wise takes the basic word-making puzzle formula and gives you a nice clean interface, with some nice music and a lovely background, and while it’s not going to be the game that changes the way anyone feels about word puzzles, it probably isn’t going to be a disappointment to anyone either.

Going all the way back to having a bad Bookworm habit for a long time, I’ve played quite a few word puzzle games over the years. However, other than a few that are kind enough to give you Qu on a single tile, most have stuck to the single letter per tile format. Word Wise includes several common two letter combinations, but oddly docks you points for using them – for example, if you have individual S and H tiles in a word, it’ll net you 17 points. Using a SH tile only grants 9. This might be annoying, except the points really don’t seem to matter. You level up based on number of tiles used, regardless of score.

This is what felt like the weakness of Word Wise, at least to me. There’s no in-game motivation for getting long or high scoring words – sure, your score ticks up in the corner, and you occasionally get other score-boosting tiles, but it doesn’t feel like any of it matters. You can shuffle the board as many times as you like, and leveling up adds to the total number of complete board resets you can use. It seems like it’s impossible to lose, and the score doesn’t matter, so I don’t know if you can ever really feel like you’re winning either.

However, if you’re the type of person who just likes to chill out and make words, this might be right up your alley. There’s no timer, and no pressure. You can select or unselect any genres of music that come with the game, or turn the sound all the way down and listen to whatever you like. There’s not a lot to this one, but I’m not sure there needs to be.

Basic puzzle games of any type are part of a pretty saturated genre, and word puzzlers are almost always going to be infinitely replayable by design, so it’s not entirely surprising this one didn’t garner a ton of sales. SteamDB estimates it has sold somewhere between 200 and 400 copies, and it is ranked 5123 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

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