Reviewed by: Adam Kheroua
Seldom is the case that a game comes along that is so straightforward in its premise and package that it is both refreshing and regrettable. Word Forward is such a title - frank to the point of being forgettable, one-dimensional to the point of being overlooked and simple to the point of sailing right by you. For all its humility and mediocrity, however, you're getting exactly what you pay for with Word Forward; in an odd way, I kinda respect it for that if nothing else.
Word Search with bells and whistles then, Word Forward's unassuming title has you making words to move forward. Each challenge sees you make three-or-more letter-long words from the 30 random letters available. Four-letter words reward you with 'swap tokens', that you can spend to swap letters around on the board in order to lessen the lexical load. Each challenge comes with five 'modifiers' along the bottom of the screen that you can use to alter boards: two extra letter tiles can be swapped into the board without spending swap tokens, a jumble modifier changes all the remaining letters on a board to random new ones, a swap modifier lets you swap one tile with a new specific letter tile, and a bomb modifier can erase a single tile on the board. These modifiers can wreak havoc in the hands of a wordsmith, but must be used sparingly: if three modifiers are used on a board then a three-star rating cannot be achieved. If you are so inclined to go for the highest rankings, then tactical use of modifiers will compliment shrewd swap token usage, resulting in some enjoyable ego-boosting moments as you crack each board and demonstrate your multi-syllable mastery!
Complementing the simple premise of Word Forward are it's no-frills user interface and presentation. The controls are clearly displayed at all times, and a guide on how to play the game is readily accessible. A very clean and clear white colour scheme keeps things in focus, while full touch-screen functionality makes the package perfect for on-the-go grammatical gaming. Upbeat music adds the illusion of rapidity to an otherwise static experience, and with no timer or scoreboard in sight, the 500 challenges on offer exist in a vacuum, with no real sense of urgency summoning forth your inner completionist. The lack of online multiplayer and scoreboards, as well as challenges that don't change after you beat them, leaves Word Forward with very little to say.
For those looking to get a bit of brain-training in, Word Forward might just be speaking your language. If you're a fan of crosswords and puzzles in general, then the modest price tag and amount of challenges on offer may just appeal to you. If you're looking for something more compelling though, Dr. Kawashima's pre-frontal punishing puzzles and problems are still the talk of the town. Quite possibly the hardest review I've had to write in a long time, Word Forward spells out exactly what it is and is capable of the second you sit down with it. I can't knock it for being what it is; although it is simply... simple, and perhaps too simple an offering for gamers looking for more puzzle for their pound. If you're looking for the dictionary definition of 'mediocre', where you'll find "of only average quality", you'll see it spelt Word Forward.
Reviewed by: Adam Kheroua