Word Zen Review

Word Zen Review

Feb 10, 2011

Developer: Liquid Rock Games
Price: US$2.99
Version: 1.4
App Reviewed on: Motorola Droid X

Fans of the classic “word search” style of puzzle games are going to find a great treat that’s hard to put down in Word Zen from Liquid Rock Games. This review is based on Word Zen Unlimited, which is similar in every way to the free version, minus the advertisements. Also, you’ll need to use the SlideMe App Marketplace to purchase it.

As the name implies, it’s easy to get lost for quite some time in this addictive puzzler as you string letters together and rack up huge points. You’re racing against a clock, so you have to use your time wisely as you scan the 7×7 tile grid. The longer, more complex the word, the higher your score and the more time you add on to the clock. Each time you clear a word, more tiles fall from the top of the field. Once the clock runs out of time, though, that’s it. Game over.

The only real goal in Word Zen is to build up the highest score you can, so there are a few tricks and twists in how scoring works. Mainly, each letter has an assigned value from 10 to 100, with vowels and more common letters worth the least. You also want to incorporate as many tiles of the same color in your words as this adds a multiplier. And, of course, you’ll want to make good use of Word Zen’s power-ups while dealing with its obstacles.

What I especially like about Word Zen is the amount of freedom you have to form words by searching backwards, forwards, horizontally, vertically and diagonally. You can even backtrack, using letters you’ve already linked to in order to build longer words. Just swipe across each tile and let go once you’ve built the word you want. It’s really that easy.

One small issue I have with Word Zen’s gameplay is that, while it is does have a lot of replay value, you can find yourself playing for quite a while without much rest. There are bonus rounds that help break up the constant search for words, but they seem to be too few and far between. Setting the game up in stages would have made more sense as you could find yourself playing for a very long time, especially if you’re very good.

Now, what good is a high score if you have nothing to compare it to? Unfortunately, this seems to be the game’s only real weakness. Word Zen relies on Scoreloop for its global ranking and social networking. Fortunately, you don’t need to register with the service to post your high scores and network with other players, but you’ll be just another number unless you take the extra step. Another issue I ran into was when I tried to post my score to Twitter. For whatever reason, it just couldn’t seem to do it.

Despite its few flaws in the social networking department, Word Zen makes up for it by offering players a simple, addictive game that is easy get sucked into. The visuals and music both fit into the “zen” theme, with the option to mute the sound if it’s just not to your liking. All in all, it’s quite a dandy little production that I definitely enjoyed.

Word Zen Review Rundown

7
Graphics/Sound - Nothing too bad or out of the place, but there were some interface elements that could have been placed better.
8
Controls - The controls are extremely simple since all you are doing is swiping and touching. They work great.
7
Gameplay - Simple puzzle solving with some definite challenges in the bonus rounds, but that's all there is.
8
Replay Value - Once you get started, it's hard to stop. You just have to keep playing, keep going for a higher score.
7.5
Overall - Great time waster, hard to put down. Could use something extra to break up the tedium of endlessly picking out words (more bonus levels, perhaps?) but great at what it does.

App available on the Google Play Store »

Dale Culp
Dale Culp has been writing about video games in print and on the web for the better part of the last 10 years. From the Atari 2600 to the Xbox 360 and beyond, he's covered just about everything. You'll find his work in places such as TheWeekender.com, GoLackawanna.com, Gamesylvania.com, EscapistMagazine.com and even IGN.com
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