While there will always be a lot of bad games in the world, there are those few fantastic gems that shine above the rest. Word Cube by Unit 501 is one of the latter.
Word Cube is a word formation game similar to WordTwist or Bookworm. The difference, obviously, is that players work via a cube. The game starts out with a 5 minute timer and players click on any visible letter, illuminating all eight adjacent letters as they attempt to connect them together in order to form words (a la Bookworm). However, unlike other word play games, the design is quite original.
The game sits in an isometric view allowing the player to see three sides of the cube. The cube is 3x3x3 and as you use letters, the hue of that letter face gradually becomes a reddish color until the block goes away forever and you have to use the letters beneath it. Furthermore, you can manually remove cubes as you see fit that allow other players to make strategic decisions on improving your score and what letters they choose to use.
In addition to design, the game is incredibly well polished. Unlike most Facebook games, the developers have taken the time necessary to present attractive looking graphics, sound effects, and excellent presentation. This effort has put Unit 501 in the ranks of other major casual developers such as EA Pogo. The game really stands out from the crowd of average, boring Facebook games.
There is honestly not much wrong with the game play. If I were to pick nits, I would say the biggest quip I have is the use of a timer. In any game, it is important to push the player forward and one such method is creating a sense of urgency. Generally, games like this have a light puzzle aspect, so to push players they use a clock. Personally, I think it has been used so many times, that it feels a bit like a cop-out. It would be refreshing to see more game developers negate the clock feature and find other means to push players forward. For example, increasing the puzzle aspect so that solving it is the overall goal rather than a high score, or perhaps better social capabilities for active competition, could help.
Ultimately, however, Word Cube doesn’t feel like a very “interactive” social game. The best social feature is that the game displays your current rank and percentile rank on Facebook. You can also invite friends to beat your high score and you do get rewards for challenging friends. However, the game play itself is pretty solitary.
The developers could improve the game by employing asynchronous versions of dynamics like those found in multi-player Tetris. In Tetris, when a player removes multiple rows, blocks fall down on top of their opponent and it becomes a battle of who can survive the longest. This simple feature causes the two games to interact with one another, and forces each player to actively react to their opponent’s progression.
Honestly, however, these are less flaws anre more aspects that can be changed or added to further improve the game. Word Cube is a wonderfully presented game with a solid design, and the developers certainly meet their claim as one of the “most addictive games” on the web (or at least Facebook). If Unit 501 continues this trend of well designed and well polished games they will certainly make a name for themselves and rise quickly amongst the social gaming ranks. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another round to play.