If you loved Loren Brichter’s classic multiplayer word game Letterpress, but for some reason you want a single-player version of it, then Italian developers Marco Torretta and Stefano Figurelli have something to show you: Lettercraft.
This is a wordsearch game played on a five-by-five grid of tiled letters, which you click in sequence to form words. The longer the word, the higher the score.
Each level has a target score, and it’s worth lingering to find the long words because a couple of 8- or 9-letter words can earn you top marks straightaway. Quickly tapping away with 4- and 5-letter words won’t do much for your scoreline.
What makes the game really fun is the timer. See, all tiles start out light blue, but after a while they “heat up" to teal, then green, orange, etc. If a tile gets past red then it disappears. You can cool a tile down by using it in a word, but if you form an invalid word then all the tiles you’ve used heat up. You need to keep your tiles cool, while trying to get the longest possible word, while all the time aware that the clock is ticking.
It’s subtle, but this sheen of tension across the wordsearch mechanic creates a single-player word game that is exciting to play.
As you move through the levels, rules are introduced such as all words must have the letter A in them, or only words with five or more letters are valid. Again, this injects just that little bit of extra pressure, and it motivates you to concentrate harder and get those words locked in as fast as you can.
There is a multiplayer component too, but you don’t actually compete against each other, you just try to survive longer than your opponent. There’s no stealing of tiles or other ways to impact your opponent’s game, it’s two separate games linked only by an indicator of how well the other player’s doing. There’s room for improvement here.
Lettercraft is free to download and play, but it’s a little strict with the in-app purchases: You have to pay to keep playing past the fifth level. So you’ve probably got around 10-15 minutes of play time before you need to flick a buck in to the developer’s hat. You can also pay to unlock colour themes, and a statistical page.
I’m thoroughly enjoying Lettercraft. It’s fresh and fun. I don’t see it being a hit for its multiplayer aspect, but as a single-player word game it’s a lovely experience.
Marco Torretta and Stefano Figurelli have been developing games together for the past year. Their first game, mathematical puzzler GREG, was featured by Apple and went on to hit the top spot in the App Store’s puzzle games chart. Before developing games, Marco made utility apps Amount and Globo, both of which were Apple’s Editor’s Choice.