A war of words.
The combination of Scrabble and Risk has finally made its way from iOS devices to XBLA in Denki’s highly entertaining Quarrel.
If you haven’t already played Quarrel on your iOS device, shame on you. There are no excuses for not playing what is one of the best games available on a mobile device. But never mind, I will fill you in on the basics of what to expect with both the iOS and XBLA version of this strategic word game, as both versions are essentially the same, but with one major difference – multiplayer.
The game is played on a small map which is split into different territories. These territiories are then divided amongst the opposing factions, from two to four, and are inhabited with troops from the given faction. The objective is quite simply to take over and control all of the territories on the map. The factions take it in turns to attack neighbouring territories or move their troops to adjacent friendly territories. At the end of their turn, reinforcements arrive in the form of a few more troops that will be added to the existing troops.
So far, so Risk. But it is when battle commences that things take a more “Scrabble-like” turn. The opposing players are presented with the same selection of letters, each of which has a different value, and challenged to make a word. But the word they make can only use as many of the letters as the number of troops that player has in the battling territory, forcing the player to make using particularly high-scoring letters a priority. Should both words equal the same score, then the fastest player to present a word wins, which makes things even more tense.
Players get to charge up a meter that will award them with bonus soldiers that can be added to any battle, thus adding the chance to use one more letter. There are a nice selection of different modes, including an entertaining campaign in which the player must face off against a variety of well-rounded AI characters, and challenges that will get the brain working. There are also online leaderboards so that the player can compare their “Quarrel IQ” with friends and boast about their most impressive words.
The game even goes so far as to try and educate, with definitions given of the available words and higher scoring words suggested. Thankfully, the game has quite a broad, and impressively massive, dictionary that even allows some slang words. The AI ramps up the difficulty fairly quickly in the campaign mode, which may put some players off, but the player can always take a break and go battle some real players instead in the new multiplayer mode. This is where the game really shines, offering a much more tense exchange of words and a much more satisfying reward for winning.
The game looks really good, is bright and colourful, and is very easy to play. All of this might suggest that a game this good would be priced highly to match. But the most surprising thing is that Quarrel is being offered on XBLA for an incredibly impressive 400MSPoints. I would happily of paid double this.
Quarrel is a highly entertaining little game that may even leave the player with an extended vocabulary. At a bargain price, there really is very little reason not to pick up this game.