“You can’t go wrong with a Zach Gage joint" is a mantra I’ve lived my life by, and it hasn’t failed me yet. That includes with Gage’s newest release with frequent collaborator Jack Schlesinger, called Knotwords. Gage and Schlesinger went into detail on how the game came about during their very first “Book Talk" livestream last week, which I tried to briefly summarize when announcing the game. The short short short version is that Knotwords is Crosswords mixed with KenKen, plus a little spit and polish thrown in, and that combination (like many of Gage’s previous games) makes for an entirely fresh take on word games.
If you don’t know what KenKen is, it’s played on a similar grid to Sudoku. However that grid is broken into sections of various sizes called cells, and each cell contains a certain math equation which acts as your hint to what numbers go in each box in the cell. The final goal is to fill out every row and column of the grid with numbers 1 thru 9 (or less, depending on the size of the puzzle) just like Sudoku, but there are no pre-filled numbers like in Sudoku puzzles to get the ball rolling. Instead you must use the math equations to help you determine what numbers go where.
So Knotwords is that… but with words instead of numbers. It doesn’t take place on a full grid, but more of a Crossword-style grid. There are daily puzzles and, similar to the New York Times Crossword puzzles, they start out smaller earlier in the week and gradually grow in size and complexity as the week moves on. Rather than an equation in each cell like KenKen, the cells in Knotwords have a bunch of letters which must be placed in the squares within that cell. Once every cell is filled out properly, you should have a bunch of correct words reading both across and down just like a Crossword.
Like I’ve said before, Zach Gage has an uncanny ability to blend to really well-known concepts into each other to form something that feels almost entirely new. Knotwords feels like one of those “How did nobody think of this before?" type of games. You can check out a small selection of its puzzles totally for free, and there’s a $5 per year subscription or a one-off $12 IAP that will unlock LOADS of additional content, including new modes and a huge back catalog of daily puzzles. This is yet another really fun Zach Gage game to kick back and chew on each day an I don’t foresee it leaving my device ever.