Wot I Think – Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey

By John Walker on August 7th, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

I just killed a giant rabbit with the word DOILY. And that is why, no matter how much Letter Quest might be a whopping great rip-off of Bookworm Adventures, I am enjoying myself.

And how it is. The grid of lettered tiles may be 5×3 instead of 4×4, but they crack, get poisoned, turn into gems, get locked, in just the same way. You spell words to attack in just the same way. You fight cartoon monsters, equip boosting items, and progress along some half-finished story, all exactly like Popcap’s BEST game (yeah, swallow that, Peggle idiots).

Bacon Bandit Games have, in fairness, added some bits and pieces, and taken others away. Sadly what’s taken away is Bookworm’s abundant charm, but what’s added is a lot more RPG stuff that would always have been welcome in Popcap’s pair. There’s a huge array of upgrades and shops and bonuses to muck around with here, paid for by successfully completing each particular challenge – and indeed for completing each challenge multiple ways.

There are your basic upgrades, health, damage and armour, and then alongside that new weapons to unlock, potions for your inventory, special items that affect in-game bits and bobs, books that give certain word-types bonuses, aesthetic improvements to the tiles, and even different main characters to play as. And a lot of these items can themselves be levelled up as you play. It’s fair to say this aspect of the game is definitely distinct from its – cough – inspiration. (They perhaps push their luck a little far by having the book shop be run by a bespectacled worm.)

Replaying each little run of fights is nice, too. The first time through it’s just about killing all the monsters. But you can replay another three times, with different challenges. One is always managing the run in a time limit. Another will be a twist on the format, so maybe words four letters or under don’t do damage, monsters are twice as strong, or there’s a limit to how much damage you can take. That sort of thing. And then the fourth star available on any level is a super-tough gauntlet, likely something to come back to when you’ve improved your character a whole bunch more.

But, really, no matter how much is thrown at it, this is essentially Bookworm Adventures. And you know what? That’s a good thing. Because Popcap sure as shit aren’t making any more of them, since they disappeared up EA’s bum. BWA2 came out in 2009, and that seems to be that. So in the end, we’ve got a continuation of the series despite them. Good! It’s a shame that it’s a lot less charming, and it’s a bigger shame that the initial tiles appear to be in Comic Sans, but it’s solid, has a good dictionary of words and definitions, and offers some decent challenges with the more difficult stars.

I adored Bookworm Adventures, and so while there’s no escaping the feeling that this is the supermarket own-brand version of the toy, when the original has been discontinued I’ll take what I can get.

It’s currently available for a remarkably cheap $2.49 via their own Humble widget, and of course there’s a Greenlight page. You can also play a free web demo version right here.

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20 Comments »

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    J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    From my end, that price appears to be a limited time thing. I didn’t play Bookworm Adventures, so perhaps I’ll enjoy this slightly more because of it.

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    tumbleworld says:

    £1.50-ish? Yoink! Sure, it’s a blatant Bookworm clone, but frankly that’s a good thing after five years.

  3. InternetBatman says:

    This review made me put this game on my list. I loved Bookworm Adventures, but it’s been a long time since they’ve done anything with it and the game only has so much replay value.

  4. baozi says:

    So sad that there haven’t been any new Bookworm games. At 2.49$…this has got to be my shortest time going from learning that a game exists to buying it.

    (That’s not Comic Sans, by the way.)

    • baconbanditgames says:

      Thank you for buying Letter Quest, I hope you enjoy it!

      And you’re right, it’s not Comic Sans. :)

    • Gilead says:

      Yep. I basically read the article, clicked through to the site, and found myself with no reason not to buy it, so I did. It turns out ‘It’s essentially Bookworm Adventures’ is a pretty strong selling-point.

      I am finding that the individual stages seem quite short so far, and I probably need to go back and work out what the star system they use is actually for, but it definitely feels like a fun entry in the scrabble ‘em up genre.

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    Arathain says:

    I am always a little surprised that Word Realms hasn’t received more attention than it has. It’s Bookworm Adventures, but with a more complex RPG layered over it. It is extremely charming, in a way that Letter Quest fails to manage. Words used as attacks actually deliver custom taunts using that word just about more often than not- there are thousands of the things.

    http://www.wordrealms.com/screenshots.html

    • Vinraith says:

      It got some mention around these parts when it was being developed but then RPS seemed to forget about it. This article made me wonder what had ever happened to it, so I’m glad you mentioned it here. The art style is… unfortunate, but the game underneath looks interesting.

      • WaytoomanyUIDs says:

        Ooh, its from the Kingdom of Loathing guys, it should be intersting. And it explains the art style which as you say is slightly odd. Thanks for the heads up.

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    draglikepull says:

    Bookworm Adventures was great. I wish more people would make interesting puzzle games centered on vocabulary. One question I have about this game is: how’s the dictionary? BA2 ocassionally failed to recognise definitely-real words, but not often enough that it was distracting. A vocabulary/spelling game only works if the built-in dictionary is robust.

    • baconbanditgames says:

      Hi, I’m one of the Letter Quest devs. The dictionary in LQ is just over 190,000 words (the Oxford English dictionary is around 170,000). We added both spellings of all words like COLOR/COLOUR, LOCALIZE/LOCALISE, etc. as well as many other words, which is why we have so many! We did remove racial slurs and swear words since we wanted the game to be kid-friendly. We also added many place/country/city names, and are always adding more. I think the game’s dictionary is pretty solid at this point, and we’re constantly updating it whenever anyone finds words that should be in there but aren’t. :)

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        draglikepull says:

        Ahh, excellent! As a Canadian I tend to default to British spellings, so when a game only lets me use American spellings I get frustrated.

        • baconbanditgames says:

          I’m Canadian as well so generally use British spellings too…had to make sure that those were included!

  7. Cloudiest Nights says:

    Another word game that has caught my eye would be Words for Evil up on itch.io. It looks quite beautiful and clean, and I’m a sucker for pretty things…

    http://steaky.itch.io/words-for-evil

  8. Fawnet says:

    …No more Bookworm Adventures?
    *slumps to knees, stares up at you with a stricken expression*
    I mean I’ve tried the demo to Grimm’s Journey just now, and I like it just fine, but it would have been nice to have BOTH.

  9. Antistar says:

    I’ve been slowly playing through the mobile version of this for a while now (I spend very little time playing games on my phone), and I have to agree with every single thing John said in his WIT. Bookworm Adventures is great, we need more of it, EA are horrible, so this is the closest thing there is, as far as I’ve seen.

  10. bill says:

    wanted to get this on android, but it seems it’s not available in Japan. :-(

    If you want any help with localisation…

    • baconbanditgames says:

      On Google Play we only sell in US and Canada due to complex taxes (Google makes us handle the taxes for each country individually, which we don’t know how to do). You can get Letter Quest on Amazon AppStore though for $2.99, but it includes all content that you normally pay for on iOS and Google Play. We are still looking into how to get in all countries on Google Play.

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    Jackablade says:

    Sold!

  12. wizzard_8 says:

    Thats a horrible set of letters in that screenshot, followed by a really good set:
    Tawdry
    Deactivated