This is not your father’s Scrabble
Crossword games. They’re over with, right? Everything’s a variation on Scrabble, and it’s all been done to death before. Place the tiles, collect the points, and hope your verbosity can best that of your opponent. But what if crossword games didn’t have to be like that? What if they could be less about the words you spell, and more about how you could squash your opponent with a single well placed “S” or “ED”? Welcome to the world of Wordox.
At first glance, most players will have an innate understanding of the basics in Wordox. Presented with a 9×9 grid, players will take letters from their six-tile selection and spell whatever words they can. The trick (if you could even call it that, after 100 years of Scrabble), is that every word you spell must be connected to a word that’s already on the board. This is a crossword game, after all.
Wordox, though, is as much about board domination as it is about spelling words. The object of the game is to be the first player to control 25 letters on the board – but placing those letters doesn’t necessary guarantee control. If someone adds on to your word, they steal those letters for themselves. So if you spell “HE” and your opponent turns it into “HEW,” those three letters belong to them.
Controlling the board isn’t the only way that Wordox sets itself apart fom the Scrabbles and Words With Friends‘ of the world. Unlike most other crossword games, players in Wordox will work from a shared pool of letters. So while you might think you’re about to dominate by spelling “ANIMAL” on your next turn, it’s only going to happen if the opposing player doesn’t think to do it first. And even if they don’t, if they spell something else using the letters you need, well… let’s hope you can think fast on your feet.
The smaller 9×9 board (as opposed to Scrabble‘s 15×15) means that players have much less room to work in, adding another layer of challenge to the game. Each corner of the board has a special “vortex” square that, should you spell a word over it, will clear the board and let players start with a blank slate. So in addition to spelling and territory control, you’ll often find yourself working your way to the corners as quickly as possible. Additionally, there’s a bonus points situation involving those corner squares, but compared to all of the other ways Wordox manages to set itself apart, these seem hardly worth mentioning.
Unlike many Facebook games, Wordox prides itself on real-time competition, so you’ll always have a live opponent to square off against. If by some chance you can’t find a live opponent (which we’ve found happens more often than not when trying to fill all four seats in a four player game), a competent AI opponent can fill the slot for you. Two player games move pretty quickly, but if you opt for a four player experience, things can feel a little draggy as you wait for your turn. This isn’t necessarily a flaw in the design of the game per se, but merely in the speed of your opponents.
Word games are a dime a dozen these days. And word games that look like Scrabble? Even more so. That’s why it takes something truly unique to get our attention – and Wordox has that something in spades. In taking a familiar concept and tweaking it to seem completely fresh, the game does the impossible – it makes competitive crossword-style wordplay feel new all over again.
Fast-paced, addictive, and fun, we can’t recommend Wordox highly enough. If you’re a fan of word games, Wordox should be the next word on the tip of your tongue.