Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered mixes two popular yet very different gaming styles into a single game. By taking the framework of an old school RPG like Soleil or early Final Fantasy games (think Super Nintendo/Sega Megadrive) and turning the battles parts into word games like Scrabble the developers, Bacon Bandit, have managed to pull off one of the rarest of things in modern gaming. They have made something that is genuinely unique but we all know, unique doesn’t mean good.
Letter Quest is remastered as it was originally a mobile platform game that was then ported to PC and Steam a little later. Brilliant programs like the current Xbox One indie developer program (1D@XBOX) have now opened the door for games like Letter Quest to get an outing on the massive console market which can only be a good thing for developers and gamers alike. Letter Quest is brought to us by Bacon Bandit Games who hail from Canada. Made up of just two guys, Mark Smith and Jake Macher, Letter Quest was the first game produced and released by this small company and the remastered version is more than just a graphical upgrade as a ton of new content such as an endless mode and a new soundtrack have been added to the remastered version.
Letter Quest follows a young reaper named Grimm who is on the hunt for a pizza and to make some cash. You control him on his journey which turns out to be more perilous then a pizza collection should be. You also enlist the help of a young female reaper called Rose and between you both you set off to collect jewels and defeat monsters in your realm on your important quest for sustenance. The characters and levels within the game are cartoon like and pretty simplistic in style but in a good way. Rose and Grimm are cute as can be and the bad guys you fight along the way look simple but perfectly suited to the rest of the games style. There are a load of cool character animations when you win or lose with Grimm having some particularly funny ones. Musically, it feels retro but again that seems to fit nicely in with the games design and doesn’t ever get annoying. I must admit I often didn’t notice the music because I was so enthralled in the gameplay.
The controls are supremely simple as you don’t actually move the characters. The way the game works is that you select a level from the main map and that level will have a certain amount of monsters in it. Grimm will walk from left to right across the map, stopping when he reaches a monster. When that happens, battle commences. This is where you get involved but instead of swinging swords and throwing spells you have to put together words from a letter board at the bottom of your screen. Much like scrabble, longer words or words containing rarer letters are worth more points than others and these points are the XP damage you cast against your enemies. Defeat one and Grimm automatically moves through the level to the next one. Sounds simple and it is simple but it is brilliant. A few levels of doing the above should lead to boredom but that isn’t possible here because along with this simple and ultimately playable design is an absolutely huge range of additions that make each level feel like a whole new game. Once you complete a level you open up challenge versions of those levels where you have to beat it again but under a set of constraints like beating it in a certain time which means you have to be quick with your words or beating it while only using 3 letter words or even beating it against massively upgraded monsters.
As well as that, within each level there are huge variations in battles where some enemies have the power to mess with your letters freezing tiles so you can’t use them, poisoning tiles so you take damage if you do use them and more. The monsters themselves range from being ones that you fight using any old words you can find, ones that only take damage from words of a certain length or one that only takes damage from words starting with a corner letter and so on.
There is a reasonable but not harsh rising difficulty level as you progress which also stops any boredom from setting in and it is this challenge that really pulls in the RPG elements. Every time you beat a monster, a level or a challenge you win gems. You use those gems in the store to buy upgrades to your own health, ability to take damage, strength of attack, add perks to words (like 2 x damage for using a double vowel), add power to your weapon and even buy health potions that you use in game, as a last throw of the dice.
Just like the variation in monsters and their specifications, there are a load of upgrades which unlock as your progress and it is extremely satisfying to fail on a level, go back and play a few challenges on earlier ones to earn gems, upgrade yourself and then kick monster butt in the previously failed level.
It is amazing how much content and variation is packed in to what would normally be described as a casual game. There is no short changing here at all. Bacon Bandits wanted to keep you on your toes at every corner and have done a great job of that with never a second of boredom setting in and with an hour of gameplay being swallowed up in seconds. Okay, I am sure there will be a point where I do feel like I am doing the same old thing but with 6 to 8 hours put in so far, it feels as fresh now as it did when I first played it.
I play a lot of “casual” games but I can see this game being popular with all markets, casual or hardcore, as it is just a brilliant idea made brilliantly. The levels are short so you can pick it up and play when you have ten minutes spare but you can also get sucked in and “just play one more level” to the point where an hour has passed in seconds.
I was lucky enough to be allowed a copy for free for review purposes but I would buy this and feel like I got an absolute bargain. I think you all should, well, unless you hate word games of course. It is worth twice as much as what it is on sale for at around the £7.99 price mark.
As you probably have noticed, I love this little gem. I think that while playing it you really feel the effort of the guys at Bacon Bandit Games and that is rewarding in itself. The obvious care they have taken with this game reflects through in its content and quality. It looks good, has huge amounts of content and diversity, a strong RPG levelling system and a scrabble like word game all packed into less than a tenner. What could there possibly be to not like? Games like this, and other so called Indie developers put many recent AAA titles to shame. Very well done indeed.
Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered