STAFF REVIEW of Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered (Xbox One)

Friday, April 8, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered Box art Grimm and Rose are the cutest and most cuddle worthy grim reapers you'll probably ever see, and they need your linguistic skills to help them defeat monsters, trolls, ghosts, and more. To be honest, I'm not usually into the 'casual' type of games, but Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered has me wanting to constantly play 'just one more level' with my wife. Letter Quest embodies the notion that not all games need a massive budget with lifelike graphics to be fun, and with its addictive and simple gameplay, this game works.

Most likely at some point you've played one of the notable word games out there: Scrabble, Words with Friends, or Boggle among others. Letter Quest plays upon these premises but adds a charming visual style, numerous challenges, and an oddly addictive RPG element to the gameplay that keeps you hooked and coming back for more, even if in short spurts.

Grimm's titular journey tells a story about him wanting to find the nearest pizza place to grab a slice. Along the way he is confronted by monsters and ghouls and must use his vocabulary to defeat them and get one step closer to the much desired pizza. While the bulk of the game is locked behind the Story Mode, don't expect much more story than what's above. Not that a strong narrative is why you'll be playing a game like this, and there's virtually no dialogue of any sort, but it's still cute and wacky enough to give you a slight smile while you enjoy yourself.

Letter Quest features turn based 'combat', oodles of upgrades to customize Grimm and Rose, adorable visuals, and a great soundtrack to boot. The core gameplay consists of spelling words with the random letters that you're given during your turn which will deal damage to your current enemy based on word length and difficulty. You progress through each dungeon as if it's a side-scroller, making progress as you defeat each enemy to reach a gem stash at the end of each stage, unlocking the next level.

You're given a set of fifteen random letters and must make your words out of what you have. Just like Scrabble, each letter has a different value which corresponds to how much damage they add to the total word value. Just like other words games, the longer and more difficult your created words are, the better off you'll be. Eventually random letters will gain bonuses such as granting you buffs, heals, and other helpful aids to survive and complete the stage.

When you ultimately take on the hard mode stages and other challenges, monsters will sometimes gain special abilities or they will only be able to be defeated in a specific manner. For example, they might not take damage unless it's a four letter word, or ends in the letter 'S'. Sometimes they'll take double damage if you use multiple vowels, and it's these modifiers that really can challenge you, leading to some refreshing attempts.

After you submit your word and damage the monster, it's then their turn to attack you without the need to spell any words. So it not only becomes a game of having to come up with longer words to deal out more damage, but to also survive each dungeon without reaching zero health on, or else you'll need to retry.

As you defeat enemies and clear stages you earn gems as you go. These can be used to upgrade Grimm's abilities and purchase items to use during gameplay. At first there are very few items to buy and upgrade, but as you progress, it's actually quite surprising how much customization you can actually do with Grimm, building him to suit your play style. Maybe you want to play defensively, or have health regenerate with enemy kills, it's completely up to you. You're also able to replay levels to farm for gems should you wish, or focus on the side quests to earn a larger chunk of currency at a time.

If you're lucky, you'll come across stages that will have a treasure chest for you to open, if you can guess the word, Hangman/Wheel of Fortune style, with a specific amount of letters to guessed (though these amount of guesses and rewards can be upgraded with gems if that's something you want to focus on). It's a nice change of pace and the rewards are worth your time to try and guess correctly.

If you're a strong linguist and manage to complete the story mode, you've only just begun Grimm's journey, as each of the stages has four optional challenges that earn you stars (and gems) as you complete them. There's even an endless mode that's been included in this Remastered version, allowing you to see how long you can continue playing and survive until you run out of health. It's a fun diversion once you've completed all of the stages and challenges (which will take quite some time) though I wish the gems you earned in Endless carried over into Story Mode.

Letter Quest's visuals are simple yet very clean and pleasing to the eye. The UI is simple and never becomes too cluttered or confusing. You're even able to unlock different skins for the letter tiles, which is funny when you read the descriptions and realize they mimic how tiles look in other word based games, like Scrabble and Words With Friends.

The difficulty for Letter Quest will solely depend on your vocabulary, but if you're a fan of the genre and played similar games before, you'll most likely succeed without issue. The more challenging levels will require you to 'grind' for a little while and have some upgrades equipped, but once you do it makes the gameplay much more enjoyable and interesting. I quite enjoyed the RPG elements, as I found that they were driving me to obtain more gems and continue playing more-so than simply getting to the next level.

While the genre itself may lead you to dismiss it due to being a casual type of game, but if you give it a chance you'll get sucked right in by its charm and appeal. My wife, who is a non gamer, gravitated towards this game and wanted to constantly help me figure out longer lettered words, as it's meant for people like her who simply play Facebook style games. Soon the "one more level" moment turned into over an hour.

Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered is one of those games you can keep installed on your Xbox One's HDD and jump back into without needing to remember any complicated controls or what to do next. It's incredibly easy to recommend at it's price point as you'll get hours worth of enjoyment alongside Grimm, provided you have an abundant jargon as your arsenal.

A local multiplayer mode would have gone a long way so that the wife and I could challenge and battle one another in some sort.

Overall: 8.6 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10



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