With such celebrated puzzlers as Bejeweled, Zuma, Inasaniquarium, Chuzzle and Feeding Frenzy 2, PopCap has more than earned its reputation as a trusted casual games publisher.

Guess what? The company has done it again with its latest game: Bookworm Adventures Deluxe.

This clever word game serves as a sequel to PopCap’s 3-year-old hit, Bookworm, but adds a lengthy story with plenty of humor, and cleverly folds in role-playing game (RPG) elements to keep gamers glued to their monitors until the wee hours of the morn.

In case you’ve never played a game of Bookworm, the core game-play in Bookworm Adventures Deluxe involves a 4 x 4 grid of randomly-placed letters and it’s your job to created words out of them. Unlike the original Bookworm, the letters you click to make a word do not need to be adjacent to one another. The longer the word or the higher the letter value (think Scrabble), the more points you’ll earn.

Our hapless hero is a tiny green worm named Lex (short for Lexicon, perhaps?), and in the main Adventure mode he is magically zapped into books to confront a malevolent threat to the Great Library. The epic tale spans 30 chapters in all, each with a different theme as our little bookworm traverses a huge map to confront enemies of all shapes and sizes.

What’s that? You’re confused about how a word game mixes in fighting bad guys? So were we. Here’s how it works:

While you create words with letters from the middle of the screen, Lex faces off against foes at the top, be it ancient Roman soldiers, mystical Sirens or sea serpents onboard a ship or even angry ewes ("This is a monster?!" asks Lex).

Depending on the word you create, Lex charges his enemy in a dual and inflicts damage. The enemy then takes his/her/it’s turn, and punishes Lex in a single blow. "Me hate worm!" yells a one-eyed Cyclops. If your word is just so-so, such as P-E-A-R-S, then you may only take away 1 heart from above the enemy’s head. But if it’s a good one, such as Q-U-A-I-N-T or U-N-A-L-T-E-R-E-D, then expect to finish the monster off by taking away 2 ½ or 3 hearts out of a total of 5. This game offers more than 150 different enemies, each with a unique look, fighting style and short description on who they are.

Besides the turn-based combat, another RPG element is "leveling up." After defeating enemies, your leveling up bar begins to fill up. Eventually, Lex earns an overall strength increase in one area, such as health. This is a terrific idea as it dangles a carrot in front of the gamer, who will always want to grow stronger over time to defeat the increasingly tough opponents and stronger "boss characters" (the biggest or meanest enemy at the end of the chapter).

Players will also earn treasures from time to time, which assist you in future battles. This may come in the form of "The Bow of Zyx," which boosts words using letters X, Y or Z, while the Golden Fleece treasure grants Lex an extra heart for a short period of time (be sure to click on this treasure when your health is low during a fight).

Enemies may do things such as stun you bad enough that you miss a turn or stomp down on the ground and cause one of the tiles to crack; you can still use it to make a word but its points won’t count when inflicting damage. You’ll also come across power-ups such as gems, magic potions and other aids to help Lex prevail.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, completing the main story mode unlocks a speedy Arena mode and three secret mini-games (our lips are S-E-A-L-E-D).

As a game critic, it’s an unusual occurrence when you can’t find any real fault in a title, but Bookworm Adventures Deluxe is one of those rarities. Don’t take our word for it, download the trial version of the game to see for yourself.