In other word games, common letters like vowels are often life-savers. In LEX [$0.99], they're a death trap, part of a fast-paced word game that should appeal to the masochistic.
LEX is about forming words from a set of ten tiles, each of which fills up with red over a short amount of time, with it being game over when a letter fills up. The letters fill up quicker based on commonality, so vowels and common consonants will more often be one's demise, rather than tricky letters. If anything, high-value letters help out a lot more than low-value ones. Of course, knowing the obscure Z and Q words like 'zoa' and 'qat' will help, especially later on, when the multipliers start to kick in. But even those are a double-edged sword: the higher the multiplier, the faster each letter's bars fill up. Also adding a wrinkle to the proceedings? There are no duplicate letters in the row of tiles.
While certainly just having a line of ten letters makes for a simple interface, one big problem with it is that a wrong input clears out the entire word. For absolutely wrong words, this is fine. For words in the faster-paced portions of the game, this is a major problem. I don't know if there's an acceptable compromise besides a control option: otherwise, it's a frustrating aspect. Games are very short, but they always end in an aggravating way as failure always feels like it's on the onus of the player for failing to make even a simple word with common letters.
At least each game is really short, and scores exist on such a low scale that high ones are well within the realm of possibility, though it's also very difficult to keep track of score while playing because of the necessary focus on the letters. At least the backgrounds do a great job at providing visual flair while being unobtrusive.
LEX is oddly satisfying in a way that's very hard to justify after the fact. It's kind of like Flappy Bird in a way: it's progress through adversity, and the end is relief from the pressure the game applies. And yet, because of the brevity of the experience, there's that sensation of "I can do better, what's stopping me?" Additionally, I think having a list of friends' scores integrated into the end of each game would be a great feature to easily see the context of scores in relation to friends, and the world. An 800-point score feels better when it's #18 in the world out of over 3400 players, which is only clear through the Game Center leaderboards. So really, don't feel as bad as the game may be inclined to be.
So, while I feel like LEX is the self-flagellation of word games, it can be a surprisingly pleasurable kind of pain.
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