Letterbox plays like a 3D twist on Spelltower
In Letterbox, you start with a 9X7 grid of blocks with different letters on them. You’ll endeavor to clear blocks away from the stack by spelling out letters. Similar to a word hunt, you’ll tap connecting letters to spell out words. The longer the word, the more points you get. Once you clear a word other blocks will then settle into place, though sometimes there are gaps left behind. You’ll clear as many blocks as you can before running out of moves.
We may as well acknowledge the elephant in the room and get him out of the way now. Yes, the game is extremely similar in theory to the uber-fantastic Spelltower. The way you clear tiles is the same. The directions you’re able to take while doing so are similar as well. Really this feels like Spelltower made 3D. You might consider that a rip-off, but Letterbox adds just enough to differentiate itself and change up the strategy a bit.
Of course the biggest difference here is that the tower of blocks in three dimensional. So you can spin and rotate the tower and clear words from all sides. You can even wrap words around the corners of the tower. By rotating any which way you can also open up options like clearing blocks inside the tower (by exposing gaps) or even off the top. This really makes you think differently and clearing blocks off one side, and letting the tower settle can mean new words open up on other faces.
In addition to the dimensions shaking things up, in Letterbox you also have access to some powerups and some blocks that trigger different effects. Some are simple like the bomb blocks. Tap them and they explode taking some tertiary blocks out with them to clear out some space. There are other blocks with question marks that serve as wild cards to help string together letters. The more head-warping ones will rotate columns or rows of letters and sort of feel like a Rubik’s Cube in action. All serve to shake up the blocks and help you make more words.
While I love the simplicity of Spelltower I think functionally speaking I enjoyed playing Letterbox more. Being able to rotate the tower gives me a way to shift gears and focus on different letters when I hit a wall and can’t find anything. Not to mention I have the special blocks for when I really get stuck. Sure, it may not be a pure a game and hunting and planning moves ahead of time, but as someone that doesn’t excel at word games like this I enjoyed the crutches provided to keep the game moving forward.
If you enjoy and continue to play Spelltower, then Letterbox is a bit of a tough sell. While I personally prefer this latter release, it isn’t anything new. Of course if you love these types of games, then maybe you too will enjoy more of the same. That being said, if you don’t want to spell out words, then keep moving. This game is a bit different than Spelltower, but not that different.