Guess My Word! (iOS) review

Guess My Word from 101Apps has been available as a Facebook game for some time now, but it has recently launched an iOS version. It’s available now as a free ad-supported download from the App Store, with additional in-app purchases of in-game currency and an optional “premium account.”

Guess My Word is an asynchronous word game modelled somewhat after Draw Something. Players take it in turns to compete against each other to guess a mystery word. The player who knows the mystery word is able to provide up to three one-word clues to the other player to help them with guessing. The guessing player is given a little help by being shown the number of letters in the word and being given a selection of letter tiles which may or may not be in the target word. Both players are rewarded with a small amount of in-game currency when the word is successfully guessed, with more on offer if the guessing player does not use some or all of the clues. This currency may be expended on removing letters from the possibilities when guessing, or replacing the three possible target words when providing clues.

The game’s social features stem largely from its Facebook roots, though players are able to also sign up for an account by using their email address instead. The app does, however, appear to reveal this email address to other players, which may make this option something of a privacy concern for some people. The player is also apparently immediately thrown into some games against some random players upon starting for the first time, and an apparent bug means that some of these games register scores before any turns have been played. Installing the game and connecting to Facebook also means that the player is opening themselves to regular and repeated requests (and, by extension, notifications) from random players with no apparent means to limit play to friends only.

The game monetizes through sales of its in-game currency and its optional premium account. A premium account allows players extra guesses, removes all advertising from the game, provides a small up-front coin bonus and daily coin bonuses, but is relatively expensive at $9.99. Coin packages are also rather expensive, starting at $3.99 and only getting more expensive from there — there is no $0.99 “impulse purchase” option, which may limit its profitability.

Guess My Word’s core concept is sound, but its implementation on iOS is very poor. The app feels unpolished and unfinished; when opened for the first time during testing, it played a short snippet of music that cut off abruptly and then presented an error message before proceeding to work normally. The interface is cluttered and inconsistent, with most screens lacking a “back” button to take the user back to the previous screen if they accidentally tap on something. Its limited graphics do not make use of the higher resolution of Retina display devices — which are now the norm for iOS rather than the exception. It is apparently impossible to resign from/delete the top entry in the list of games on the main menu. The game does not ask for confirmation before expending in-game currency. And, perhaps most seriously, the app does not include any sort of tutorial or help facility within itself, making it utterly bewildering to new players who may not be familiar with what they are supposed to do.

In short, then, Guess My Word is a title to give a wide berth. While there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of players at the present time, there are considerably better asynchronous word games available on the iOS platform.

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A solid game idea ruined by terrible execution.

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