Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey is one of the weirdest mashups of games I’ve ever seen. It’s Paper Mario meets Scrabble, with a dash of freemium games. If you’re thinking “Wow, that sounded good until the last part”, you are absolutely correct, as Letter Quest is an interesting concept ruined by a grindy execution.
The gameplay has been one of the most exhausting exercises in futility I’ve had since ‘Nam. Basically, you make words with tiles to attack. The damage dealt depends on the length of the word and what tiles you use, as some letters such as Z or X are harder to fit into a sentence, therefore deal more damage. You know, basic scrabble stuff. Damage is also influenced by the status of your gear, which is where the game’s main issue lies.
The game feels like a grind after a certain point. As there will often be very limited words you can use in one turn, what matters is being stocked up on potions, and making sure your armor and scythe are sufficient. This is where the game starts to feel freemium. Now, keep in mind, this game does cost money, but that almost makes it worse. Half of the time, after unsucessful run after run, I expected a popup to appear asking if I wanted to purchase more gems. There really isn’t any other excuse for this crushing difficulty.
Some of the challenge modes really how off how much extra money for gear is needed. Some enemies can only be damaged by certain letter words, making it all boil down to how much raw damage you can deal rather than what words you can spell. This becomes a problem when enemies get around three hundred health halfway through the game, This term is overused, but I really feel like it applies here. When a game is basically a paywall disguised behind insane difficulty, that’s the textbook definition of artificial difficulty.
The game attempts to mix up the scrabble formula by having enemies not just attacking you, but also messing with your tiles. Plauge tiles will spread the ‘plague’ if you don’t use them, causing any infected tiles to deal no damage. Poison and spike tiles will damage you if you try and use them, whirlwind tiles will constantly change the letter shown on the tile, and there are a handful of other tile types. These honestly don’t help much, as a few different letters rarely can make a word due to the lack of vowels usually shown.
Beyond just fighting, you can play Hangman to open treasure chests, purchase health regeneration or perks at specially marked shopkeeps, and purchase all manner of upgrades in between missions. Upgrading your damage and health is an absolute must if you want to survive, but you’ll have to replay missions again and again to even hope to make minuscule upgrades.
Like most freemium games, Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey starts out enjoyable enough, but you realize soon enough that you’re not having fun. You’re just pointlessly grinding through the levels, and it doesn’t get any more fun as you conquer harder levels. The game costs just eight dollars, and I’m willing to bet you’d spend even less if you went on the micro-transaction filled mobile game. It’s a shame, because with such a creative premise, I was really expecting a fun time.
Sadly, I couldn’t even get mild enjoyment by the time thirty minutes had passed.
This game was obtained from the developer and reviewed on the PC platform.
Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey is a decent concept ruined by lazy design choices and one of the most baffling pay-to-win adaptations I've ever seen.