SpellRush (iOS) review

IMG_2479SpellRush is a new iOS game from Tappily. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and carries a single optional in-app purchase to unlock the game’s “premium” features.

SpellRush is a simple word game that gives players a grid of letters and then challenges them to find as many words as possible before time expires. Successfully making words causes their component letters to disappear, and more letters will fall from the top of the screen to take their place. Creating words worth more than 10 points rewards the player with a “star,” and collecting three stars causes a multiplier to appear on the board, allowing the player to earn significantly higher scores with careful construction of words.

The game has two modes of play — Quick Play is a single-player mode in which the player takes on a single round by themselves and tries to score as many points as possible, while Challenge Friends mode allows players to compete against their Game Center friends in one-on-one, best of five battles to see who is the best at the game. Game Center integration with the game is good, as it allows challenges to be issued from the game’s own interface rather than having to pull up the jarring, skeuomorphic “casino-style” Game Center interface. There is one odd little quirk, however — the list of Game Center friends presented to the player to issue a challenge does not appear to be organized in anything even resembling a logical order. They’re not alphabetized by first name, last name or username — and the latter is not visible. There’s no search function, either, so players hoping to challenge a specific player will have to scroll through this disorganized list until they find the person they’re looking for. It’s a relatively minor issue, but for those with a bulging friends list it is an annoyance that doesn’t need to exist.

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The game is free to download and does not feature the perpetual need to make in-app purchases to progress — it does, however, display very occasional ads, though these are unobtrusive. Instead, the game carries a single optional in-app purchase to “Premium” mode, which unlocks detailed stat tracking, and the ability to see a full list of played words after a game, removes advertising and unlocks a game feature where players may shake their device to shuffle all the visible tiles. The latter “shake to shuffle” feature does provide Premium players with a noticeable advantage, but it’s not so powerful that it breaks the game — it simply provides them with more options, and to level the playing field all a free player has to do is make a single purchase rather than continually spend money on in-game currency to catch up.

On the whole, SpellRush is a good game. It’s nothing particularly new in the word game stakes, but it’s a solid implementation of Boggle-style wordsearch puzzles, and the asynchronous multiplayer mode adds a welcome social twist on things. It’s well worth a download now, but it would be nice to see its few minor issues such as the order in which Game Center friends are listed ironed out in an upcoming update.

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A good — if rather familiar — word game with a fun social twist.