The iOS platform is a great place to test new ideas, and we’ve seen tons of quirky and inventive games because of it. Get ready to add another one onto the pile as I think Crossword Dungeon ($3.99) is one of those unique ideas that would only come around on something like the App Store. It employs one of our favorite tactics: slap some RPG elements on a tried-and-true mechanic.
In this case it’s crossword puzzles mixed with roguelike dungeon crawling at the core of the aptly named Crossword Dungeon, and strangely enough it totally works. The dungeon rooms are in this case the actual letter tiles of various crossword answers, and your guess as to which letter belongs in each square acts as your offense against the enemies lurking about.
It starts off fairly easy with pretty basic words and hints, but quickly begins to ramp up in difficulty the further you “dive" into the dungeon. As you defeat enemies and make your way around the board, you’ll earn experience which will level up your character and allow you to choose which skills or attributes to increase. Each floor has an end goal, the last letter of a particular word, and it’s not necessary to complete every word on the board to continue on, though you’ll earn more experience that way.
You also have 3 classes to play with: a Barbarian who’s a brute, a Ranger who has ranged attacks, and a Scoundrel that’s rather sneaky. Play continues on until you die, with your final score being how deep you made it in the dungeon and what level you achieved with your character. Once dead, you start over fresh and do it all again.
As interesting as Crossword Dungeon is, it’s definitely got its share of issues. For one, it’s been rather crash-prone for some users. Also, it’s lacking in variety. Words are repeated often and many of them are factually incorrect, which is usually not a good thing for a crossword puzzle. Plus, playing floor after floor gets a bit monotonous at times. Some boss battles or something to break up the endless dungeon dive would be welcome.
Luckily, developer Nolithius has been active in our forums and is aware of the issues cropping up, and is more than eager to correct them. In addition it sounds like they’ve got plenty of ideas to improve Crossword Dungeon, including Game Center integration, Universal support, and more goal-oriented gameplay. Our forum members who have been playing the game seem to be really digging it as well, even with its few blemishes.
Crossword Dungeon is one of those games with heaps of potential, which as we’ve seen before may or may not be fully realized. But it’s entertaining even as it is, and if you can appreciate something just for being a novel concept I think Crossword Dungeon is one you should definitely look into.