Wheel of Fortune Free Play is a game that’s simultaneously quite fun and utterly forgettable. Kind of like the TV show it’s based on. We’ve all enjoyed a few episodes of Wheel of Fortune here and there, but I can’t imagine anyone has thought “I can’t wait to see the next show!” The gaming equivalent is much the same. It’s fun, but you won’t exactly be rushing to return to it.
Wheel of Fortune Free Play attempts to throw some kind of structure into the core game by having you travel the world by completing different themes in various cities. Along the way there are upgrades to pick up too, helping to give you a sense of progression. Despite this attempt at turning Wheel of Fortune Free Play into a kind of story-led game though, the bulk of the experience is pretty much what you’d expect.
You take your time spinning the wheel, picking out letters, and trying to solve the puzzle by guessing what the phrase is. It’s a format that’s familiar to anyone who has owned a TV set in the last 30+ years. There are different categories available, ensuring there’s a fair amount of diversity.
Where Wheel of Fortune Free Play falters is that some of the solutions can be a tad obscure. This is partly down to them sometimes being niche references, but also because they don’t always fit into the category hugely well. When pursuing something listed under ‘people’, you assume it’s going to be a famous person rather than a group of people that happen to be related to each other. But you’re just as likely to find “School Principal” as you are “Angelina Jolie.”
Despite this, Wheel of Fortune Free Play is still pretty fun once you learn its eccentricities. Each game only takes a few minutes and follows the format of the show closely. You take turns with other players, opting to spin for a consonant or pay for a vowel. Win a game and you get to partake in a bonus round which leads to additional bits and pieces that all tie into the many freemium style elements of the game.
And yes, this is unfortunately a game that offers an energy system, meaning you won’t get to play for as long as you might like. It doesn’t even have the decency to restore your energy when you level up. This probably isn’t a game you’re going to want to play for hours on end anyway, but it is notable that Wheel of Fortune Free Play feels increasingly like it wants your money. As well as the energy system, you can buy hints for a price too.
On the plus side, there’s a goals/achievement system that encourages you to complete certain things before earning diamonds for doing so. Those diamonds can then be used to buy hints and other bonuses. In a way, it’s all filler content. After all, merely completing the word puzzles themselves is pretty satisfying, but the achievements system does help those keen for more of a structure.
Those puzzles could be sharper, and the free-to-play elements less intrusive, but Wheel of Fortune Free Play manages to capture the feel of the show fairly well. Will it stick around on your iPhone for a while to come? I think that’s actually down to a hidden away addition — the ability to create your own puzzles and share them with friends. Get some people involved, and that’s where things are most rewarding. Otherwise, alone, you might find Wheel of Fortune Free Play a little too samey in the long term. One day, you’ll run out of energy/tickets, and you’ll simply forget to go back.