While it’s lacking in some ways, Ruzzle still manages to offer word game fun.
Mobile platforms are perfect for asynchronous multiplayer word games. Ruzzle is a prime example of how to correctly approach one of these titles. The Boggle-inspired gameplay doesn’t stand out from its peers, nor does it have much in the way of features. Despite the drawbacks, Ruzzle uses this simplicity to its advantage and provides an enjoyable, albeit forgettable, competitive word game.
Word aficionados will immediately get the hang of Ruzzle, as it can best be described as “Boggle meets Scrabble.” Each round provides the player with a random four-by-four grid of letters. Each letter is assigned a point value, and some contain a letter or word multiplier. Like Boggle, you simply draw a line across letters, build words, and score points. Two players will each take two minutes to rack up as many points as possible. After three rounds, the player with the most points wins.
Ruzzle is a straightforward experience, and it doesn’t try to act any deeper than it is. Unfortunately, in its quest for accessibility, developer MAG Interactive leaves a bit to be desired. While the core gameplay works without issue, it’s easy to wonder if turn-based multiplayer was the right choice. Being able to take turns and play on your own time adds to the game’s appeal, but the nature of the game also makes the turn-based style feel out of place. There’s no way to directly impact the opponent’s game, and any psychological impact is lost through the inability to see the opponent’s score until both players finish the round. Asynchronicity is a great idea, but it could have been better executed.
Ruzzle misses various opportunities to expand upon the experience with detailed leaderboards and statistics. Unlike many games, which tack on leaderboards and rankings for almost everything, Ruzzle happens to exclude them, and their absence is felt. The only sense of ranking is a skill score, which goes up and down based on your wins and losses. There’s a leaderboard for skill scores, but without further detail, it simply tells you who is on top and not how they got there. There’s also a statistics page on the main menu, but it gives little information and you can only view your own stats.
For the achievement hunter, Ruzzle features a variety of goals. Some of the achievements feel silly or random, such as using only four letter words or receiving a call while playing. Others will test one’s knowledge of the game and the English language. Serious wordsmiths should be able to clear out many achievements in a short time, but some aren’t quite that easy and will require skill, patience, and a bit of luck. The biggest upside to the achievements is the ability to complete most of them in the game’s single-player practice mode, consisting of a single two-minute round.
Despite some gripes, most of Ruzzle goes off without a hitch. Creating an account and connecting with opponents is simple. You can play with your Ruzzle and Facebook friends, or find random opponents. The multiplayer also features cross-platform support, so iOS and Android users can flawlessly play with one another. Outside of a barebones chat feature, there aren’t any additional multiplayer goodies. That said, Ruzzle succeeds in providing a seamless multiplayer experience, even if it’s a bit on the empty side.
With all the missed opportunities, it’s easy to understate how fun Ruzzle is. The asynchronous multiplayer works better in theory than in practice, but the well-done Boggle-esque gameplay manages to overshadow what’s absent. We’re far from having another Words With Friends on our hands, but there’s still a good deal to like about Ruzzle if you have somebody to play it with.