There’s just something about word games that make you feel like you’re accomplishing something in your free time. You’re not simply killing time; you’re expanding your very mind. Perhaps this is why games like Text Twist and What’s My Word have gone down in the annals (uh, it's a real word, which you would know if you played more word games, you pervert) of my favorite apps of all time. And just when I had given up hope of finding another worthy addition to that club, Spuzzle, Inc.’s Word vs Word [$.99] has earned its way onto the list. Felicitations all around!

I’m not going to sugarcoat it – this game is going to frustrate you. But if you’re like me/into punishment, you’re going to love it. It’s not only because the words are particularly challenging (finally, another chance to use that SAT dictionary!), but because this is really a logic game disguised as a word game. Words With Friends this ain’t.

Every time I try to describe this game to my friends, they end up with puzzled looks, but I will attempt to convey how it works anyway. (I’m just cool like that.) Basically, you have to figure out a secret word in the least amount of guesses. You can play easy (3- or 4-letter words), medium (5- or 6-letter), or hard (7- or 8-letter). The game gives you two keypads. The first is where you enter your guesses; the second keeps track of which letters are valid and which letters have been eliminated.

Let’s say the secret word is ‘cat,’ and you guess ‘tug.’ The game would tell you that you got one letter correct. As you can see, it won’t tell you if you have the order of the letters correct, adding to the challenge. From there, you need to determine which of the letters was correct, so you might guess ‘get.’ At that point, it would confirm again that one letter was correct, so you could eliminate the ‘u’ and ‘g’ of your first guess. It goes on from there until you solve the puzzle or give up.

You can play the game either solo or multiplayer. In multiplayer, you can create matches with your friends or let the game match you up with somebody online. In either case, you pick a secret word for them to guess, and they do the same for you. You take turns guessing until one of you figures out the other’s word and wins the game.

The issue with multiplayer (as in pretty much every other turn-based game) is that taking turns is, well, incredibly dull. Sometimes your partner will not respond for hours (or, uh, ever) so if you’re looking for fast-paced, action-packed wordplay you are probably going to want to have several games going at once, or play solo.

Oh, solo mode! Maybe it is a testament to my loser loner-ness but I prefer solo mode to all others. In solo mode, the game picks the secret word, and there’s no incentive to solve the word in the least amount of guesses (but I have my pride, OK?). That last part is important to note, because sometimes this game is going to throw the most ridiculous words at you, and it’s going to sandwich them in between rounds of elementary school vocabulary words.

Seriously, the game gave me ‘hay’ and ‘eon’ then busted out ‘mEq’ on me. Game, that is not even a word, it’s an abbreviation! What would Scrabble have to say about this?! I thought maybe it was just a fluke, but then after ‘rails’ it gave me ‘haem.’ HAEM. “A complex red organic pigment containing iron and other atoms to which oxygen binds.” I am beginning to suspect that this is all part of an elaborate ploy by my high school chemistry teacher. This is punishment for turning in all those assignments late, isn’t it?

The almost-comically varied nature of the secret words it picks for you really helps keep the game challenging. There are some elements that need work (what, so ‘fart’ isn’t in the game’s dictionary but ‘barf’ will win the round?) but honestly, those elements are minimal. If you’re a fan of word games or logic problems, this is well worth the download, and the fact that it has a well-developed multiplayer system really puts it over-the-top. Serendipitous endeavors, friends!

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://beyondtap.com koyut

    is this something like moxie?

  • http://twitter.com/aagold3 Aaron G

    So it's basically Hang Man mixed with Mastermind?

  • Anonymous

    This is the pen & paper word game Jotto. It is the word game equivalent of Mastermind.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jotto

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GHIIHTRJXIOZCAF2GESNKZH264 himanshu

    Let’s say the secret word is ‘cat,’ and you guess ‘tug.’ The game would tell you that you got one letter correct. As you can see, it won’t tell you if you have the order of the letters correct, adding to the challenge. From there, you need to determine which of the letters was correct, so you might guess ‘get.’ At that point, it would confirm again that one letter was correct, so you could eliminate the ‘u’ and ‘g’ of your first guess

    --

    You  aint very good at this game, are you?

    That aside, I like the concept of the game... Will certainly buy it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SGBZOZI67JW2CJDAIBZ2PU7WX4 Jason

    Have the developers ever heard of retina graphics? Hello, the iPhone 4s is already out. I guess they don't mind low-res 31dpi graphics on the iPhone 4 and 4s, but as a customer I do! Is it really that hard to program a word game to display at the correct resolution?

    And when is TA going to review the 2 best word games on the AppStore: "War of Words" and "Word Colors"?

    • Anthony Travers

      My favourite word game is SEI ... sort of tetris and scrabble but man there are lots of word games out there!

  • bobbo_bob

    The person who described this as Mastermind meets Hangman is spot-on.  I've played it a few times now and I like it, but I think this game could be much better with a couple of improvements:

    1)  A player can currently pick a difficulty level based only on the size of the word, not on the word itself.  In the first two games I played (on "easy" 4-letter word mode), the game picked words I had never even heard of - one was a chemistry term "diol" and one was the word "bogy" which I guess means the same thing as "bogey".  Anyway, if I've never seen the word before, guessing the letter order is just that: a total guess.  It would be nice if a player could pick the level of word difficulty beyond just the number of letters.

    2)  It would be nice if players were given the option of playing the game with mastermind-like clues that would tell you not only how many letters were correct but also whether the correct letters were in the right position or not.  This would simultaneously ease difficulty a bit and increase the strategic element of the game.

    The game is still fun without these improvements, but I hope the game developers will read this and consider adding these elements to it...

  • Anonymous

    The person who described this as a cross between Mastermind and Hangman is exactly right.  This is a fun idea for a game but I think it could be dramatically improved with a couple of adjustments:

    1)  The player can currently only choose a difficulty level based on the length of the word.  But of the 5 games I've played on "easy" mode (4 letter words), in 3 of the games the computer chose words I'd never even heard of: one was a chemistry term ("diol") and another was a word for a squirrel's nest ("drey").  If I've never seen the word before, knowing the right letters isn't enough - I'd have to guess the correct arrangement for them out of pure luck.  It would be much better if users could choose a difficulty level based on the commonality of the word, not just the number of letters.

    2)  It would be great if players had an option of knowing not only how many letters they guessed correctly, but whether those letters were in the correct position (like in mastermind, where it tells you both how many colors you guessed correctly and whether they were in the right position).  This would simultaneously make the game a bit easier and add a little more strategy (and less guesswork) to the gameplay.

    I hope the developers will consider making these adjustments in a future update...

  • Anonymous

    This is a great game! It is contagious and inquisitive. If you haven't downloaded it yet, do so today!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GHIIHTRJXIOZCAF2GESNKZH264 himanshu

    Couldn't download the game yet, but if this game picks up chemistry words and random abbreviations and such.... it's not a good word game!

  • Raymond Arbusto

    Try W!ts, it's exactly as you described it, they tell you how many are correct and how many are in correct positions.

  • Sara Mizky

    I thinks that this game is really really funn and
    also is good for our intelect becouse it work all of our brain lenaguage part
    and make it work fatser, i was on my vacations when i discover it in a hotel
    Veracruz
    i was bored and i baught it, very nice.

    See you.

Word vs Word Reviewed by Beverly Noelle on . Rating: 4