App Review: Lexel by jbrink.net, LLC
Lexel is a fast-paced word game. You are presented with a board full of squares similar to a Scrabble board. When the game starts, letters begin randomly popping up in arbitrary places on the board. Your job is to spell words with the letters to clear them off the board before it fills up entirely with letters. There are three different speeds of play (slow, medium, fast) and four different board sizes (small, medium, large, huge) to choose from. You earn points for each word that you spell based factors such as length of the word and speed of the game. More points are awarded for more difficult to use letters as well, just as in Scrabble. You can earn bonus points for using bonus letters that appear on the screen in a different color (like the “c” in the picture below) and for spelling a word that extends the whole length or width of the board.
To spell a word on the board you must drag the letters into the proper order. You may not drag a letter over other letters on the board. There must be a path open from the space where the letter is to the space where you want to move the letter to. As the board fills up, letters may become boxed in and difficult to move. Words must be at least 3 letters long, but can be spelled horizontally or vertically (left-to-right, right-to-left, top-to-bottom, or bottom-to-top). When the letters are lined up, tap on the first letter of the word and then on the last letter of the word to clear it from the board. You must work quickly, though, because the speed at which the new letters appear will increase the longer you play.
When the board does fill entirely with letters, the first phase of the game is over. New letters stop appearing, and you have the task of trying to clear as many of the remaining letters on the board as you can. The point value for these words is significantly reduced because the game speed is zero. However, if you can clear all of the remaining letters, there is a big bonus in store. When you cannot spell anymore words, you tap on the “done” button followed by “end game” button to signal the end of the game. If your score was a high score, you will then be asked to enter your name. You can also tap on “words” to see all of the words that you spelled and the point values that you earned for them.
For the most part, this is a well-written game that is fun and challenging to play. However, I did find one thing that is a little confusing and awkward. It is the fact that when the game board fills up with letters, there is not a good signal at the end of the first phase and the beginning of the next to let the player know what is going on. There is only a small message in the corner of the screen that says, “Try to clear the board!” The first time I played it, I wasn’t quite sure what was happening and why I wasn’t getting the typical “Game Over” screen. After rereading the instructions, I realized that this phenomenon was part of the game. The player actually has to signal the end of the game by tapping “Done” instead of the other way around. I guess once you know what to expect, it is no big deal. It was just a strange way to end the game. Overall, a good pick for the word savvy.
Lexel is $1.99 in the iTunes App Store.