Game Reviews

Crossword Dungeon

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| Crossword Dungeon
Crossword Dungeon
| Crossword Dungeon

If you still harboured the belief that certain genres were safe from crossover creep, then now's the time to pack up your tent and go home.

Crossword Dungeon is, ladies and gentlemen, dungeon-crawling at its weirdest, with all the crossword-y adventuring you never even thought to ask for.

Of course, we've had odd RPG mash-ups before - most memorably in the form of match-three oddity Dungeon Raid.

Crossword Dungeon - a retro-infused combination of exploratory creature battling and word formation - is just as strange as Dungeon Raid, even if it never quite reaches the same compulsive heights.

Consonant companion

Each stage in Crossword Dungeon features a criss-cross of corridors laid out in much the same way as an ordinary crossword puzzle.

As you'd expect, your task is to solve the clues at the bottom of the screen, filling in each corresponding answer by inching your hero - picked from one of three subtly different classes - along each corridor, dropping letters square by square.

Some squares feature enemies that can only be obliterated by placing down the correct letter tile from the random selection provided. Hit an empty square, meanwhile, and it's automatically filled in for you.

Mixing things up a little, certain tiles offer additional benefits such as health potions or extra damage-dealing explosives - all of which can be handy, if you find yourself in a tight spot.

Word up

To complete a stage, you simply need to reach the green square hidden somewhere in each dungeon. You can earn extra XP by exploring and completing bonus puzzles, mind.

As you'd expect, earn enough XP and you can level-up. You are presented with the choice of one of three stat updates each time, ranging from health boosts to other, more obscure upgrades.

Crossword Dungeon is a delightfully fresh take on two very different genres, and it all comes together beautifully at first, its crisp retro aesthetic perfectly complementing its compelling central conceit.

Sadly though, it's a clever idea that's never satisfactorily developed, and a combination of issues eventually undermine the experience.

Limited vocabulary

For starters, there are few tangible benefits to the often-abstract stat boosts.

Furthermore, Crossword Dungeon struggles to deliver any meaningful sense of progression, which serves to make the game's rather repetitive core even more conspicuous.

Throw in an extremely limited word list and the result is an experience that flatlines all too quickly.

It's a real shame, for there's a brilliant idea at the heart of Crossword Dungeon. In its current state, though, it's too slight, too abstract, and far too monotonous to entertain for long. All in all, it's not quite a four-letter word, but it's hardly a two thumbs-up, either.

Crossword Dungeon

A great idea that brings two distinct genres together in a clever fashion. Sadly, though, Crossword Dungeon just doesn't know what to do with them after that
Matt Wales
Matt Wales
Following a lifetime of adventure on the high seas, swabbing the editorial decks of the good ship IGN and singing freelance shanties across far-flung corners of the gaming press, Matt hung up his pirate hat and turned his surf-seared gaze toward the murky mysteries of the handheld gaming world. He lives to sound the siren on the best mobile games out there, and he can't wait to get kraken.