MAIMLAN - seems like just a random jumble of letters, right? Well, not really. Swap two of those letters and you'll get "another name for letter carrier". That is, switch the placement of the second "M" and the "L" and you get MAILMAN. If you followed that, you're ready to play KrissX (pronounced "Kriss Cross"), a highly addictive word game with a lot of bonuses, nuances, and strategic elements that do a lot to keep the game from getting too stale.
Although there are multiple game modes available, players must first start with "Quest Mode," which leads to unlocking the other modes. Quest Mode acts as both an introduction to KrissX as well as the main mode of play. Its name is a bit misleading as there are no real specific "quests" to complete (other than just playing through a bunch of puzzles) and there is no background story or anything like that.
Each level in Quest Mode has a handful of word scrambles, with each word connected to one another as in a crossword puzzle. Additional elements are introduced in the first few levels. For example, some words will have "unknown" (blank) letters that players must either figure out based on other letters in the word or by unscrambling the letters of adjacent, connected words. There are also tokens that fall down on the screen as players complete words, which players can click on for more points.
Additionally, players can build up combo bonuses by unscrambling multiple words in rapid succession. To go from word to word, players hover the mouse over the scrambled word to get a hint, such as "another word for fast" ("rapid") or "not grotesque" ("pretty"). One issue with this is that the clues fade in a second or two after players hover over the letter jumble instead of immediately. This makes it more difficult to attain those successive word bonuses. Of course, difficulty is not always a bad thing but in this case it comes off as rather frustrating. It is always possible to guess the words without the clue, but when the "unknown" letters come into play or there are multiple words that could be formed, every one of those few seconds becomes a bit annoying.
After a while, other modes are unlocked, as part of the natural progression of the game - after so many levels, the modes open up. There is a "Time Attack" mode, which puts up a clock and asks players to solve as many letter jumbles as possible before time runs out - solving them quickly or clicking on falling tokens in the background adds time. There is also "Timeless Mode," a staple of any strategy/quick-paced puzzle game. In this mode, players can just go through word after word without any break, and no time limit.
Also throughout Quest Mode, players unlock various "Special Puzzles," which are available from the main menu. Special puzzles act sort of like Quest Mode, but there is a central theme to them. For example, there's a special puzzle where all the words are names of countries. There are a whole bunch of these, and they are fun to go through because it's a bit easier to figure out all the words in advance and then just run right through them.
Music and sound effects in games like this are usually a secondary thought, and sometimes it actually detracts from play a bit. That is the case here, as the music loops are uninspiring and repetitive at times, but it’s nothing that should actually keep anyone from playing the game. All in all, KrissX provides those key elements to a word puzzle game: it’s addictive, there’s a lot of incentive to play the game really well and rack up huge combo bonuses, and there’s a ton of puzzles and words available.
Although there are some hiccups in some of KrissX’s incidental content, the meat of the game is executed very well, and makes this game a worthwhile purchase for any word game fan.
- Very addictive. Lots of words and puzzles available. Visual effects and large point bonuses encourage good play.
- Clues take too long to appear, making combos frustratingly difficult at times. No details on how to earn badges. Music and sound effects can get repetitive.