Writer Rumble (iOS) review

Writer Rumble is a new iOS game from GameFly Games Publishing and Feel Every Yummy. During development last year, it was known as Word Fighter, but it has since been rebranded, though the core gameplay concepts remain the same. It’s available now as a $0.99 Universal download from the App Store.

Writer Rumble is a simple word-based game in which there are two main ways to play: Survive with Words or Fight with Words. Both modes work in a fairly similar fashion, though Survive with Words is single-player, while Fight with Words is a synchronous multiplayer mode.

Writer Rumble’s core gameplay revolves around selecting one of a selection of characters, all inspired by famous authors ranging from Jane Austen to H.P. Lovecraft, and then battling against either swarms of incoming enemies or other players. Damage is inflicted on enemies by making words on a Scramble/Boggle-style letter grid at the bottom of the screen. Words may be formed by drawing lines horizontally, vertically or diagonally, and additional damage is inflicted by longer words or those with higher-value letters in them.

Players have access to three special powers which may be chosen at the beginning of the match in Survive mode, or which are fixed on a per-character basis in Fight mode. These range from replacing the entire letter grid with a new one — good when the player has already found most of the words, as they cannot be used more than once — to inflicting additional damage and healing. Each of the characters has their own unique animations when powers are used.

The game is simple to control — tap and drag the letters to form words, tap on the special power icons to use them — but suffers a little on the small screen of the iPhone, particularly for those with large fingers. It is a little too easy to slide over the wrong letters and be penalized for making a word that doesn’t exist, though this problem is somewhat mitigated by playing on the larger screen of the iPad.

Social features include the ability to promote the game on Twitter and Facebook either via an “I’m Playing” message to attract opponents, or via a score brag message at the conclusion of a Survive game. It also offers full Game Center support for its multiplayer mode, as well as a full set of achievements and leaderboards. Players are also encouraged to keep playing the online multiplayer mode through a leveling system.

Writer Rumble’s core gameplay is solid, but there are a few issues, most notably with the multiplayer aspect of the game. There is no problem when requesting a match directly with a Game Center friend, assuming the friend is available and accepts the request, but the Quick Match random opponent finder did not work once during testing. Conversely, requests from other random players pop up and block the menu screen at times — particularly tiresome when attempting to read the help text upon first starting the app. Quick Match requests would be better implemented by using a “lobby” system, whereby players who have both chosen the Quick Match option are paired up with one another, preferably using a matchmaking system to ensure fair competition. The current implementation, where Quick Match appears to just pick a player who has the app open at random and wait for them to respond, is flawed and all but unworkable at present.

Given that the online multiplayer facility is such a key part of Writer Rumble, this strange and flawed implementation of random matchups makes the game impossible to recommend at present. With an update to fix the matchmaking functionality and make it easier for players to compete against strangers, Writer Rumble will be a superb game; as it stands, the potential is clearly evident and the presentation is immaculate, but the implementation leaves something to be desired.

Writer Rumble is not yet listed on the App Store leaderboards at the time of writing. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.

Wait

Potentially one of the best synchronous multiplayer games on the iOS platform, but the Quick Match functionality is in dire need of an overhaul.

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