Musical spelling game Alphabeats will drop a lexical beat when it arrives for iOS on July 10th
Alphabeats combines two of my favourite things in life: words and music. If it had cats in it as well I'd probably have to marry it.
Teddy Diefenbach (who's also working on Hyper Light Drifter) of developer Rad Dragon describes Alphabeats as "Scrabble -meets- DDR". That's Dance Dance Revolution for those who don't know - you can easily replace it with Guitar Hero.
It involves creating words from letters that fall down the screen in time with the music. You get more points the longer the words are.
Your main problem in Alphabeats is that creating words is a test of your reactions and dodging skills. You have to collect the right letters and in the right order to make a word.
That's easier said than done considering they fall at random. So, as well as looking out for the letter you want, you also have to dodge the ones you don't want. One wrong letter can screw everything up.
Dodging gets harder as you stack letters up and your word gets longer, too. To get the biggest points you have to put yourself at risk.
Ideally, you need to get into some kind of zen mode, focusing on the task at hand. I tend to just panic, or get distracted by listening to the serene beats. I'm enjoying myself either way.
Luckily, each attempt at a song gives you three one-use power-ups. With a quick swipe or pinch of the screen, you can double your points, squash letters into one bubble (making it easier to dodge), or send out an explosion to clear the screen.
No matter how you do, once the song is over your score will be recorded and you're given a grade to match.
It turns out that I'm not very good at Alphabeats (C grades aren't preferable). It's certainly a game that takes practice. Fortunately, the music makes me want to play it over and over, just to hear it again.
If are good at the game, though, and the Casual mode is too easy, there's always the Tricky mode. This adds more letters to the song's beats and rhythms for you to catch and dodge.
For the real hardcore lot there's the Spellfire mode. This adds hit points meaning you can die if you make too many wrong words. Diefenbach calls it "lexical bullet hell", and he's right - that's exactly what it is.
Alphabeats is a compelling musical puzzler. It's the kind of game I'd happily play when trying to chill out, I think.
You'll be able to check it out yourself when it arrives for iOS on July 10th at £1.49 / $1.99.
Check out the Alphabeats website for more information.