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.
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