According to the biblical tale, people built the Tower of Babel because they wanted to reach up to the heavens. As the tower stretched higher and higher, God sensed that the builders were becoming too cheeky for their own good and threw a wrench into the works by making it so that each person spoke a different language. Since the builders were now unable to communicate with each other, the tower could never be completed.
Fast forward to the 21st century and you, too, can attempt to construct your own mighty tower in Babel Deluxe – in the form of a new word puzzle game.
Actually, Babel Deluxe isn’t just one word game — it’s a whole collection of them rolled into one. Five of the games are playable right away, and a further 20 are unlockable for a total of 25 in all. The games are organized into a Jeopardy-like grid under the category headings of Action, Find, Create, Memory and Solve. A cursor cycles through all the available games, and the player tells the cursor when to stop.
The player then plays whichever game the cursor lands on, and earns a certain number of coins based on performance that can be used to increase the height of the tower. The player also earns, or loses, stability points. If your stability meter becomes empty, the tower will fall over. As the tower grows, it will reach certain key milestones that allow new games in the grid to be unlocked.
To give you an idea of the 25 different kinds of games, here’s a brief rundown of the kind of variety you can expect:
- Double Vision: In this test of memory, words fly by on the screen and the player must click the words that have appeared more than once.
- Odd One Out: Remove one letter from a word to create a different word. For example, with the word SIGHTS, remove the T to make SIGHS.
- Halves Combined: Combine scraps of paper with partial words on them to make whole words. (For example, RE + CYCLE = RECYCLE.)
- Vowel Vocabulary: You’re presented with a list of words with vowels removed, and must fill in the vowels from a scrolling list.
Each game is pretty easy the first time around, but in later rounds the difficulty is ramped up and the levels become more complex. For example, a crossword-style grid might contain 12 squares the first time, but 24 squares the second time. Words become longer and objects scroll more quickly.
Some of the games in Babel Deluxe are simply well-worn classics repackaged. Word Diagram, a game in which people search for words amidst a grid of jumbled letters, is just an old-fashioned word search. Block Letters, where the goal is to connect letters in a grid to make words, has also been done before – it’s called Boggle. Typewriter is a simple speed-typing challenge that we’ve also seen before in other casual games, such as Typer Shark.
However, even if some of its games are derivative, what’s so impressive about Babel Deluxe is that it brings all of them together under one roof – as one single download. This is by far the game’s biggest strength.
Unlocking all these games takes time as well, so that long after the free trial is over there will still be plenty of new games waiting to be unlocked. As more games are unlocked, new modes will open up as well (see the TIPS section below for details.)
Most of Babel Deluxe’s games are controlled using the mouse, but a handful of them use the keyboard to type in words.
Babel Deluxe certainly can’t be faulted on its content, but the presentation of that content leaves a bit to be desired. It’s not that the graphics are ugly, but they’re nothing special. You get to customize the look of your tower by selecting from a few preset styles, but none of them are particularly attractive. The music is an equally generic "Arabian Nights" type of theme. It’s a shame that the graphics and sound weren’t more exciting. Some more inspired animations (birds flying around the tower, UFOs when the tower reaches outer space level, shooting stars, etc.) would have made the process less monotonous given that the player has to see the same tower-building animations after every round.
While it falters a bit in the graphics and sound departments, Babel Deluxe’s game-play is solid and engaging and is definitely worth downloading for enthusiasts of the English language who enjoy linguistic challenges.