Hands on review: “What’s The Word?” app offers iPhone and Android users simple, sometimes infuriating challenges
As the trend toward free mobile games which allow you to advance more quickly if you spend a little money, What’s The Word? takes a bit of a different tack. Rather than focusing on long term projects such as farm building where users might be tempted to pay in the name of speeding up the farming process, RedSpell’s latest title tries applying the concept to a simple word game. It places four seemingly disparate pictures on the screen, and asks you to come up with a word which could accurately describe all four of them. To help you along, the game tells you how many letters are in that word and furthermore gives you roughly ten letters with which to build each word on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
That doesn’t mean that gameplay is always easy. Initially you might simply need to surmise that four images which each include an arrow are in fact telling you that the correct word is arrow. But soon enough you’re left examining photographs of a soap dispenser, a stuffed bird, a soda in a glass, and a bath rag to try to figure out what four letter word they could possibly have in common with each other (hint: they’re all soft). There’s no penalty for repeatedly guessing wrong, so if all else fails you can try every combination of the letters offered in the name of process of elimination – if you have the patience.
If that’s enough to drive you mad, then you’ll be relieved to see a life raft hopping up and down after you’ve taken too long to register a guess. The raft offers helpful options such as revealing a letter of the correct word, removing incorrect letters offered, or adding a fifth picture, each for a number of coins which you’ve accumulated through the process of getting words correct. If you don’t have enough coins to afford any of the helpers, you get to the part where RedSpell makes enough money to give its app away for free: you can make an in-app purchase of more coins. That’ll run you about fifteen to twenty cents per clue, which sounds cheap, so long as the clue does the trick for you the first time.
Two things hold the game back from being a better experience than it could be. The first is that there are times when only three of the four pictures seem to belong, and even after you’ve correctly guessed the word through mixing and matching letters, you’re left to conclude that the fourth image was a mistake. For instance, is there any way to equate a plate of tacos with the word home? The other potential drawback is that if you play the game for too many hours in a row you can deplete its entire reserve of levels before it auto-updates with new levels at the end of the day. This suggests that developers are assembling images daily to keep up with gameplay demand rather than developing the levels well in advance, which raises questions about sustainability.
But all that said, it’s a free app. If you can resist the temptation to cheat your way into a sizable credit card bill, What’s The Word? can be a fun time killer. Unlike other popular word games such as Words With Friends or Letterpress, you’re not playing against anyone else, so there’s no need to wait until your online opponent gets around to taking their next turn before you can continue play. It’s not the most innovative of the free-with-paid-cheats mobile games to come along. But if you like addictive word games, it’s likely to keep you hooked for awhile.