In the world of "throw RPG mechanics onto a tried-and-true game genre to create awesomeness," one of the most promising examples was Crossword Dungeon [$3.99] from developer Nolithius. Released in the fall of 2012, Crossword Dungeon was a game that blended crossword puzzle-solving with dungeon crawling and RPG mechanics. It totally worked at its most basic level, but was somewhat diminished by a lack of words and variety in its gameplay. It's been a long time coming, but a brand new update has solved most of those issues, and if you missed it before then Crossword Dungeon is totally something you should check out now.

The idea behind Crossword Dungeon is that the crossword puzzle itself is the dungeon, with each letter of the puzzle being a new room. You're given a clue for each word in the puzzle, just like a normal crossword, but it's actually easier because you're given a selection of eight different letters that could be the solution for the current letter your character is standing on. If you aren't sure of the letter, you can choose one as a guess, and this is where your character's attributes come into play as you'll "battle" against the monster occupying that letter's spot. Every "floor" of the dungeon has an exit point, and once you've completed the letter for that exit you'll move onto the next floor and a new puzzle with new words. The object is to dive as deep as possible as the puzzles and words become more difficult.

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With this new update, there are more than 100 new words added to the game as well as a new algorithm to ensure words are repeated less frequently. There's also some new monsters and tweaks to how the magic attacks work. Finally, the game is now Universal so you can enjoy it on the larger screen of the iPad. Crossword Dungeon was already really awesome despite its quirks, but with this new update it feels more like the game I always knew it could be. If you're a fan of mixing RPG elements into word or puzzle games, then make sure you check out the newly-updated Crossword Dungeon and hit up the forum thread for more discussion.

  • Nolithius

    Thanks for the kind words, Jared!

    • pdSlooper

      I really enjoy this game. It's been on my iPod since TouchArcade first reviewed it. I'm a word nerd, a language and linguistics fan, but I rarely find word games I enjoy. Thanks for making this game, and for the update!

  • Professionalbum

    I'm glad the developer didn't abandon this hidden word gem.

    • Nolithius

      I indeed didn't abandon it. Just took a break. 😉 I'll be releasing Android and PC versions later this year.

  • timmis6010

    Excited to play this again with the update. It had it's flaws but I didn't regret the purchase at all because the game was so charming. Big thanks to the dev 🙂

  • Anotherkellydown

    I had never heard of this before. Sounds like a lot of fun. I'll be downloading on the mini when I get home from work. Thanks for the heads up Jared and of course a thank you to the Dev!

  • Leeabe51

    More articles like this please, TA. Point out those unique games I may have missed.

  • Tim Jordan

    As a fan of roguelikes, I'm enjoying the game BUT...the crossword aspect irks me a bit as it really limits replayability for me. Here's hoping the dev can use this basic system in a more free form word game not reliant on clues and thus a very limited word set.

  • Sabaki

    Nolithius, a quick question.

    Are the questions localized at all? I'm from South Africa and would find it limiting to play a crossword game where the question is intended for the US audience.


    • Nolithius

      Hey Sabaki! While the questions are not localized, as an immigrant to the US and non-native English speaker myself I've been making a conscious effort to include as little US-centric trivia as possible.

      The one caveat to that statement is that specific spellings of words, such as "liter" will follow the US-English format.

      In the past I've had quite a few offers for fans to localize the game to French and German; let me know if I can count on you to localize it for South African English, should I pursue internationalization in future versions! 🙂