Game Reviews

Word Forward review - A tight word game that wants to be loved

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| Word Forward
Word Forward review - A tight word game that wants to be loved
| Word Forward

Word games will never be cool. And I say that as someone who loves word games.

The word game is the nerdy classmate of the popular block-swapper and the rambunctious jock that is the physics puzzler. It used to have a buddy in the number puzzler, but that went off to hang with the cool kids when Threes! hit the big time.

I'm not sure that Word Forward will upgrade the word game's social status much, but at least it's bought a snazzy pair of trousers and adopted a confident walk.

Twisting my words

It starts with some tastefully minimalistic graphics - mmm, diagonal stripes on a white background - and the sound of sunny house chords over an insistent beat. Sure, the effect is more 2009 than 2019, but it's all very tidy and inviting.

The game itself is a similar case of old components put to good use. Each 5 x 5 grid gives you a familiar word jumble puzzle to crack. Pick out as many words of three or more letters as you can.

You can drag out words in any direction, even diagonally, and it's possible to zig-zag around the board in a pleasingly elaborate fashion.

But the key twist here is that each time you use a letter, it's removed from the grid. Despite this, you must use each and every one of these letters to end the round, forcing you to think tactically.

You could spell out the word 'retraceable' and top your best-word score. But if it leaves you with a bunch of beleaguered consonants, it'll be a pyrrhic victory.

Power blocks

Word Forward would be formidably tough without the help of a number of special status blocks. First, there's the limited ability to swap adjacent tiles, which is great for those almost-words.

But the real currency here is the five single-use special blocks that sit along the bottom of the grid. Two of these are replacement letters, one is a bomb that destroys a letter, another re-rolls the entire remaining grid, and the final one lets you choose any letter for a single block.

With so many of these in place, it can be all to tempting to blunt-force a round. The arrival of blocks that can only be used in a certain direction, and some that have to be used in a four letter word, add only a little intrigue.

The real (and optional) challenge is to complete the grid while leaving three or more of those special tiles intact, which will secure you a three-star rating.

Word Forward is a really fun and well-executed word game, but it perhaps wants to be loved and accepted a little too much. I can't help thinking that it would be even more satisfying if it embraced its nerdy nature and kicked away the stabilisers.

Word Forward review - A tight word game that wants to be loved

Word Forward is an extremely accessible word game with a compelling twist to the word-jumble format
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.