At first, Words of Evil was a little bit frustrating, due to a seemingly lack of control over the game. The game is a mixture between word puzzle games like Boggle, and RPG games. You start off with one hero, with one attack, and attempt to get as far as you can in the game without dying. Along the way, you may meet new heroes to add to your party as well, as you fight off hordes of enemies to make it toward the end goal. And you do this by making word after word thrown at you. It’s very simple, but for a game that will cost you 3 bucks on Steam ($2.09 until December 18th), it can take hours of your time just typing in word after word. Despite an initial bad first impression in the first hour and a half, the game has an addictive quality to it, especially for those who like the word game genre. It grows on you over time, to the point where you’re sitting there at 12 am trying to justify one more battle.
The game determines how you attack by the colored tiles that are on the field, and what you use in that word. Use one color tile, and the according hero will do a simple attack. Use two, and you’ll do a super attack, and use 3 and you’ll hit with an ultra attack. If you are able to make bigger words, in the 4 and 5 letter range, you’ll cause chain reactions along the sides of the letters you have chosen, causing more tiles to be used in the attack, and ultimately doing more. Now the enemy on the other hand hits you on a timer basis: so it’s to your benefit to hit as quickly as you can, although you may need to hold back depending on your parties skills.
Skills vary on the different 16 classes you can choose. Some are offensive juggernauts, like the Flame Priestess, while others are defensive and healer types, and that’s where the simple nature of the game takes a complex turn. Healing is important, and like previously mentioned, you do specific skills by using specific sets of color tiles. So sometimes speed gives way for trying to make a spell that can save your party, and that’s where the complexity comes into play. It can be chaotic: you may think that you have the spell well in hand, but missed a chain tile that causes you to cast another spell. Part of me wishes that it would have given you a mana pool and gave you the ability to cast the spells yourself. However, the games chaotic nature somewhat makes up for it. It makes it thrilling, and the control is really in your hands in the end.
It’s not just battles in terms of the word puzzles either. There are traps that you come across, where you have to use as many letters as you can to make as many words you can, or take damage for every letter you leave unused. Or find the one word to unlock a chest in a series of letters. You’ll pick up gold to purchase equipment and potions along the way. The death mechanism is also unique: if a character is about to die, you have a chance to save him by making a word out of 7 letters. If you make a 6 letter word, you’ll get 50% of your health back, and if it uses all 7, you get all your health back. You can also do one last hit before your hero goes down, if you can’t find a larger word in question. It is a bit of a thrill while the clock ticks down, as you scramble to find the large word to save the hero you have been giving all your equipment to since the start of the game.
The game was made by one person, Dylan Loney, and so as expected out of a one man operation, the production value of the game only goes so far. The art style is reminiscent of old 8 bit graphics (in a way), and the music isn’t something you’ll want to keep listening to over and over again. There’s not a lot of options for the game (no full screen mode for example), so the game sorta comes as its presented to you on first launch. The game could do better in teaching you the mechanics, as the aforementioned chain system isn’t really explained, and only was seen through observation.
But the game is only 3 bucks in the end, and you’ll definitely get your moneys worth if you’re a fan of word puzzles.