You could be forgiven for thinking that UnWorded is just another word game. From its icon and its name, it looks like a new entry in the long line of letter swapping puzzlers that have proven resiliently popular on the App Store.
But you’d be wrong. It’s much closer to a text adventure, with its letter-based puzzlers twisted into weird shapes – almost literally. There’s ingenuity here, that’s for sure, and it’s always nice to see a game that plays by its own rules, no matter how esoteric they sometimes are.
There are problems though, and they tend to jump out at you rather than niggle away. Get past them and you’ll find a diverting narrative-driven experience. Get hit by them and you’ll find yourself giving up and going to do something else.
Essentially the game is broken up into a series of stories. These are intertwined with another meta story that’s all about the author. I don’t want to go into too much detail here though, because the narrative is very much the beating heart of the game.
Every now and then the stories will stop and you’ll be given a bunch of letters, punctuation marks, and other objects. You then need to rearrange these to turn them into an image that represents something that’s mentioned in the text.
So, for example, in one section of a story an explosive device is mentioned, and you need to move a few letters around to make them look a bit like a hand grenade. When you get the image right they lock into place and the story will roll on to the next interactive part.
There’s a hint system that allows you to get more of a hint about what you should be making. Tap it once and you’ll get the most relevant word in the passage highlighted for you as a pointer in the direction you need to be heading.
Tap it again and it’ll show you which of the pieces are in the right place. Pieces that are in the wrong place will be highlighted in red, so you’ll know which bits you need to shift around to get to the solution that the game wants you to find.
And that’s key. It’s usually pretty obvious what you’re trying to make, and it’s simple enough to make an approximation of the object pretty quickly. But quite often you’ll find yourself tweaking things around to make sure that they’re in just the right place for an annoyingly long amount of time.
That’s not the only problem either. Some of the stories that you’re playing through just aren’t that well written. They’re like little rhyming poems, and some of them come off as childish at best. And when those narratives are the key that holds all of the interactive elements together, it does tend to throw you off your stride a little.
UnWorded is definitely an interesting game. It attempts to do something different within some old frameworks, and its mashing together of concepts taken from a number of different genres serves it remarkably well. Or at least it does for the most part. Things do start to fall apart a little the deeper you get into the experience though. If you persevere you’re rewarded with a game that does things its own way. If you don’t persevere, well, I’ll be honest, I’m not going to blame you.