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Review: Spell Quest – Grimm’s Journey (iOS/Android)

Sunday, February 9th, 2014 by

spell_quest_title

When looking at Spell Quest – Grimm’s Journey, gamers will likely be divided into two primary groups: those who hate it because it’s basically Bookworm Adventures or those who love it because it’s basically Bookworm Adventures.

I’ve been saying for years that Bookworm Adventures would be a perfect fit for iPhone or iPad. That kind of gives away which grouping I fall into, doesn’t it?

PopCap had their chance. Now it’s time for the Bacon Bandits to shine.

Spell Quest – Grimm’s Journey, like Bookworm Adventures before it, is what you get when you mix roleplaying battles with a word game like Boggle. Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will most definitely kill you.

This is definitely an homage. I am not complaining one bit.

This is definitely an homage. I am not complaining one bit.

Your job as Grimm, the gothic hero of the game, is to travel from land to land using your words as weapons. The general rule of thumb is the longer a word is, the higher the damage you deal, but each individual tile also has a strength depending upon how difficult it is to use. So, a word like “ANTIDOTE” may deal less damage than “PIZZA” because of how difficult it is to use the letter Z in any given word. If you’re familiar with the scoring system of Scrabble or Words with Friends, then you get the picture.

Every once in a while, powerful Gem tiles will show up in your grid, awarding a few basic powers to you for using them in a word. These powers are very basic when compared to those found in Bookworm Adventures, but they’re powerful enough that you’ll want to build words around them as soon as they hit the board.

While the basic premise is very much the same as Bookworm Adventures, there are enough elements to differentiate it from its inspiration.

You’ll earn gems for beating monsters, completing missions, and finishes stages for the first time. These gems go into upgrades, allowing more control over your character’s progression as you pick and choose what you want to upgrade or buy. You’ll spread these gems across your character, abilities found in books, or even helpful tools that make the game more user-friendly. It’s this level of customization that makes the game truly unique.

Additionally, while some of the worlds and stages in Bookworm Adventures were drawn out, Spell Quest has mobile-friendly stages that are over shortly after they begin. Stages take but a few minutes and can easily fit in those wonderful moments between moments, such as a subway ride, a commercial break, or that awful piano recital that you just had to attend.

Each stage has three stars that you can obtain. Unlike the score-based system of Angry Birds or the collection system of Cut the Rope, each star has a different requirement. The first star is awarded for beating the basic stage. The second star is a time trial where you must beat a stage in a certain amount of time. The third star comes from a challenge stage, which changes the way you play the stage via letter restrictions or buffed enemies. It’s like the Bacon Bandits taught an old dog a new trick.

In a war of words, this picture is my peace offering. It's not your fault that the App Store's better.

In a war of words, this picture is my peace offering. The App Store’s better, though.

Spell Quest – Grimm’s Journey is very well made. The graphics are cartoony and stylish. Aside from a bland map, this game looks terrific on my iPhone. The music will make older gamers feel right at home with looping chiptunes that sound slightly better than what you’d hear in an NES game. It can be a bit monotonous, mind you, but it doesn’t take away from the experience.

There are only a few sticking points that kind of detract from the game.

Spell Quest may actually be too generous, as it appears like you can get very powerful in just a little bit of time. Unlike most free-to-play games, you won’t really need to grind to get ahead. That’s hardly a knock, mind you, but just a further solidification that my time will be all too brief with this terrific little game. This is easily the best free-to-play game I’ve played since Jetpack Joyride.

There’s no getting around the elephant in the room. Spell Quest definitely feels short. With just 33 stages and 99 stars to obtain, you’ll be craving more in short order. I’m keeping hope alive that Spell Quest really takes off, as this is a game that I want to come back to in the future.

You need to use Palindromes to unlock a GameCenter achievement. Also, poop is funny.

You need to use palindromes to unlock a GameCenter achievement. Hence, poop.

I’ve been craving a game like this for as long as I have owned an iPhone, and it’s about time someone took the initiative to bring it out.  Thank you, Bacon Bandits, for this slice of joy. I can’t wait to see what else you gents have up your sleeve.5 star

(Spell Quest – Grimm’s Journey is available for free in the App Store and on Google Play. The game features GameCenter integration and achievements on iOS and is universal. Spell Quest – Grimm’s Journey features in-app purchases, though none were used for the purposes of this review.)

About the Author

Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming. Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.

Fade to Slack has written 343 posts on Delta Attack
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  • http://www.baconbanditgames.com/ baconbanditgames

    Thank you so much for the awesome review! Just curious, how many hours did it take you to get all 99 stars? The average we saw in beta tests was 10 hours, but it ranged from 6 all the way up to 18.

    We’re hoping the game takes off too, as we’ve got tons of plans for updates! We just released a bug fix update, and are now working on additional content. I’ll drop you a line when it has been submitted to Apple! :)

    Thanks again! Cheers!

    • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

      Thank you for stopping by, sir.

      I’ve yet to get all 99. I’m clocking in at just under 5 hours and have 65/99 hearts. Unless it really ramps up at the end, I should be closer to the 6 hour side than the 18. I should finish tonight.

      As for the updates, I am very much looking forward to additional content and hope that we can help spread the word.

      You gentlemen made a terrific game.

      • http://www.baconbanditgames.com/ baconbanditgames

        Thank you for sharing your play time! We’re definitely working hard on more content, and are excited to share it with everyone once it’s done!

        And thank you for the kind words!