I'm not the biggest crossword person. I love word games and trivia, but crosswords have just never grabbed me. So I'm a little surprised by how much I've enjoyed playing CRUX Crosswords HD [4.99].

Maybe it's the way it manages to capture the feel of playing on paper without all the messy stuff that goes along with actually playing on paper. You can't beat the aesthetic, with each puzzle laid out on a page of virtual newsprint with a nice clean handwritten font. I can almost smell the ink when playing this game.

Or maybe it's all the helpful little features. You can write in pencil or pen mode, so you know which answers you're certain about and which are still iffy. When you highlight a cell, you can see both the clues that intersect it at a glance. If you're getting close but can't pick an answer, use the rebus option to enter up to twelve options per cell. If you're really hard up, you can set the game to double-check your answers or reveal cells, entries, or the whole shebang. That saved me from a shameful trip to Google on a few occasions.

As a newbie, the source list mystifies me a bit. CRUX has a list of nearly 30 sources, split between U.S. and U.K. style puzzles. A few (those from New York Times and Telegraph) require subscriptions to their respective crossword services, which is to be expected. But I'd love to see a little more information on the sources. Are People Magazine puzzles more or less difficult than Onion A.V. Club puzzles? Or Washington Post puzzles? It's pretty much trial and error for me, but if you know your stuff, the hearty source list should be quite satisfying.

You can download each puzzle as it's published online, and once you've got it its yours to keep. A recent puzzles list lets you hop between in-progress or recently downloaded puzzles at will. You can also create user profiles if more than one member of your household has the crossword bug.

Every time I ran into an irritation, a few moments of investigation solved it for me. I was frustrated that the game would skip over already completed cells when I typed in a full entry. Turns out you can toggle that option off. If the timer makes you feel a little too pressured, turn it off too. There are almost too many ways to navigate each puzzle—you can tap on a cell, tap on a clue, swap between intersecting clues, or use the on screen direction pad to move between cells. You can also set CRUX to show only incomplete clues or only those that intersect your current selection. I have yet to run into a feature or convenience I felt was missing, but if you do, the developers have been taking feedback in the forums.

Like I said, I'm a crossword newbie. But CRUX Crosswords HD is pro. It looks fantastic and comes with everything but the kitchen sink packed in to make your crossword solving more convenient. If you enjoy crosswords, you should definitely give it a shot.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Macaroon

    If an iPhone version were to come out, I'd be all over this! Does it have the revered UK Guardian crossword? Also, how much do the subscriptions cost?

    • Anonymous

      Most of our recent CRUX development effort has been for the iPhone version, which is going into testing this week. We don't have a release date yet but we'll post it on this thread and on the forums when it's scheduled. 

      A few users have requested the Guardian puzzles so it's definitely on our radar.
      The two sources that require a subscription are the NY Times ($7/month or $40/year : http://www.nytimes.com/pages/crosswords/index.html) and the Telegraph (£4.99/month or £35.88/year : http://puzzles.telegraph.co.uk/site/register_subscription). NY Times home delivery customers also get online access as part of their subscription.

      • Macaroon

        Aha, thanks for the detailed info. I was just about to click the buy app
        button for 'Crosswords', but knowing you have plans for an iPhone
        version and the Guardian puzzles, I think I'll wait for that to come
        out, as I do prefer the look of your app. Thanks again: )

      • TKO

        Awesome.  I was wondering about an iPhone version too.  I'll keep an eye out for that.

      • Anonymous

        CRUX is now Universal and on sale for 99c for a limited time

  • Cameron Hayne

    I've been using (and enjoying) the "Crosswords" app (http://standalone.com/iphone/crosswords/) on my iPhone for some time.

    On the Mac, there is "Black Ink": http://www.red-sweater.com/blackink/

    • Macaroon

      Crosswords does look good indeed. Do you know how much a subscription to one of the sources would be on average? Is it a monthly thing? 

  • Anonymous

    This does look pretty good, but a comparison to Crosswords from Stand Alone (which is Universal, supports Game Center, has - I think - even more sources, and has kind of been the front runner for crossword apps since the Palm OS days) would be helpful.

    • Anonymous

      Rumination supplied me with a promo code and I posted some of my first impressions in the game's forum: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showpost.php?p=1759957&postcount=64

      The short story is, I was pleasantly surprised. The app really seems well thought out. Once they finish the Universal update, and especially if they get cross-device syncing going, I might just switch.

      At half the price of Crosswords, that's all it's really missing.

  • Anonymous

    I've been thinking about getting a Crosswords app. Is Crosswords really the better choice? Would definitely like a comparison. Also, especially from the viewpoint of somebody who isn't really very good at crosswords. :) I need lots of easy to medium difficulty crossword sources. Which has the best?

    • Noah

      I prefer "2 Across" :)

  • Adams Immersive

    I’ve long enjoyed 2Across, and I like some of the UI details, but I think it may be orphaned and not in active development. Would love to switch to something else! Maybe Crosswords or CRUX will fit the bill.

    • Adams Immersive

      CRUX does mimic most of my 2Across habits nicely! And some more bells and whistles thrown in as well, like the ability to clear check-flags.

  • Anonymous

    We've had a great response from this review and we'd like to thank everybody with a promo code drawing on the TouchArcade forum: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=96001

    Ask a question, tell us what sources you'd like to see, post your time for today's NYT puzzle, or even what you most like about your favorite crossword app, and be entered to win. If you already put down half a sawbuck (crossword clue) then we'd love to hear what you think of CRUX and you can still win a code for a friend.

  • Anonymous

    Is it coincidence or the magic that comes from a Nissa Campbell review?

    We're super excited to see CRUX featured on Apple's "Words for the Wise" feature on the front page of the iPad App Store:

    http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewRoom?fcId=400999574&genreIdString=36&mediaTypeString=Mobile+Software+Applications

CRUX Crosswords Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 4