Originally a mobile game, Letter Quest – Grimm’s Journey Remastered has arrived on the Playstation Vita. Here’s our review.
The Vita is increasingly becoming a platform for indie titles and conversions of mobile games. Gamers may criticize the big developers for ignoring a really good handheld, but the influx of mobile and indie titles has its merits. Mobile games are often bashed for being formulaic, shovelware and generally not very good – but it’s unfair to project that onto games that come to the Vita. For one, the barriers to even get a game on the Vita are much higher than they are under Google Play or the App Store. As a result, only a very select amount of mobile games are converted – and a lot of them are very good. Letter Quest – Grimm’s Journey Remastered is no exception.
Letter Quest combines word puzzles with RPG elements, and it does so in a number of interesting ways. Starting out, the game’s straightforward enough. You approach an enemy, and you deliver a blow by forming a word from a small grid of letter tiles. The longer the word, and the more rare letters you use – the higher your score and thus the damage you inflict. After you strike, the enemy strikes back – so make sure you deal more damage than you are dealt. Easy enough, and playing like this will get you through the first couple of levels without too much trouble.
Things quickly become more interesting when you start looking at the alternate ways to beat levels. Each level has a standard way of beating it (described above), but there’s also a time attack mode for each level that pressures you to come up with words quickly – forcing you to play low-scoring words if good ones don’t come to you quickly enough. The third way of beating levels is always a surprise, mixing things up by setting different victory parameters each time. You might be forced to play four letter words only, or restrict your choice of letters. Each mode is slightly different, keeping things fresh throughout a lengthy campaign. There are also ultra-hard challenges that become available after beating a level in all three ways, and this is where the RPG aspect really comes into play.
These ultra-hard challenges are generally way too hard when you first encounter them, and they’ll involve upgrading your character and/or weapons if you are to beat them. My first crystal star challenge (as they’re called) had a monster that dealt three times the damage I could deal, even when forming long and complex words. Two hours later, I had finally upgraded my character enough to face him again and – narrowly – beat him. Success!
Letter Quest’s addictiveness is in precisely that sort of thing. There’s always a goal to strive for, always something new to change up the gameplay and always something that’s just out of reach. Different tiles mix up the base gameplay, and after a while you’ll be able to equip special books that give you boosts that will allow you to level up quicker or get past certain stages sooner.
Like with most word puzzle games, Letter Quest is best enjoyed by native speakers of English or people who have a firm grasp of the language. Of course this is a general truth, but it also holds true for some of the challenges that the game sets out for you – including the likes of “spell a word with at least two y’s”. Not for everybody, right?
It may be a game that’s simple in formula, but Letter Quest – Grimm’s Journey Remastered is executed almost to perfection. It may not be a game you’ll remember ten years from now, but it’s a game that makes it easy to pour hours and hours of your time into – and that’s the type of mobile game we’ll happily welcome on the Vita any day. Speaking of which – the Vita’s touch screen makes Letter Quest even more enjoyable on Sony’s handheld than it is on a console like the Xbox One or PS4, for which the game is also available (it’s a cross-buy on PSN).