Words of Wonder review

Words of Wonder is a new Facebook game from Playdom. It launched to the public in early March, and is currently featured on the front page of Facebook’s App Center.

Words of Wonder

Words of Wonder is a word puzzle game that takes very heavy structural cues from popular social puzzle games such as King.com’s Candy Crush Saga. Players work their way through a linear series of levels, each of which has one of several different objectives to complete. Each level has its own leaderboard where players may compare their performance against friends, and it’s possible to earn up to three stars on each level.

Basic gameplay in Words of Wonder requires the player to make words using the letters found on the board, which may be connected horizontally, vertically or diagonally in a non-straight line in order to find words. In other words, the basic mechanic is straight out of the board game Boggle and more recent popular social word games like Zynga’s Scramble With Friends. Finding a word scores the player points, with “rarer” letters scoring more points. Creating a word of more than the minimum three letters causes the last letter to turn into a bonus tile, which applies a multiplier to any word in which it is incorporated. Special tiles also explode and take all the surrounding tiles with them when they are incorporated into a word, making them useful tools to complete levels that require the player to destroy a certain number of tiles.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 8.15.00 AM copyThe objectives the player is confronted with over the course of the levels vary from making a certain number of words to clearing a certain number of tiles or creating words on top of “ink spots” on the letter grid. These objectives are all very similar to those seen in titles like Candy Crush Saga, but the differing mechanic — making words rather than swapping colored objects — keeps the game feeling like its own distinct experience rather than a simple clone.

The game monetizes through sales of its hard currency gold, which is used to purchase “boosters” to make the game easier in various ways, beginning with adding extra moves to the player’s stock for the level and increasing in diversity as the player progresses through the levels. There’s also an energy system incorporated into the game, but this doesn’t appear to behave at all consistently, sometimes costing the player to play a level and sometimes not. It’s not entirely clear if the energy mechanic is actually behaving more like a “lives” system by “refunding” the player’s energy if they successfully complete a level — if this is the case, it should be labelled as such, as an energy system is more commonly used to throttle play after a certain number of levels regardless of whether or not they were completed. It would, of course, be preferable for the player if such a system wasn’t implemented at all and paid options were instead limited to the “booster” items, but such systems often form an important part of a game’s monetization strategy.

Words of Wonder

The game as a whole is a good one, with excellent presentation and some very attractive (and very “Disney”) animation on the game’s mascot character. Somewhat less pleasing is how drawn-out and condescending the game’s tutorial is — all of the pertinent information in it could easily have been given to the player in the first level (or even in a separate, easily-skippable help screen) rather than spreading it across several. Once past this point, however, Words of Wonder is a straightforward and addictive puzzle game that offers a fun twist on both Boggle-style wordsearch gameplay and Candy Crush Saga’s objective-based structure. With a less patronizing (or at least skippable) tutorial and an energy system that behaves in a consistent manner — both issues that can easily be fixed in an update — this will be a good addition to the wide range of puzzle games available on the social network.

Words of Wonder currently occupies the 100,000+ MAU tier with a rank of 1,098 and an estimated MAU figure of 210,000, and the 10,000+ DAU tier with a rank of 833 and an estimated DAU figure of 41,293. You can follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.

Play

Not without a few flaws here and there, but for the most part this is a fun word puzzle game.

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