Just under two years after the game's initial launch, Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey is back with a Remastered edition. I've not played the game before, but I was interested when I heard about it. A spelling RPG sounds up my alley, and it seemed like a good pick up and go game. Does this spelling RPG pass the test, or does it need to go back to school for the third time?
Grimm's Journey follows the adventures of the grim reaper, named Grimm, as he goes to get a bite to eat. There's not really any story beyond that, as the game is more focused on its gameplay. Levels in Grimm's Journey are pretty simple. Grimm will move forward and encounter enemies to do battle with. At the bottom of the screen, there is a set of fifteen random letters, and you can use whichever ones you want to spell words. Once you've got a word you're happy with, you can play that word, so Grimm attacks the enemy and does damage. Words do more damage based a few variables, with the most significant being word length and the rarity of the letters you've used. Some letters, like X, K, and Z, deal far more damage than your average E, A, and I.
The player's success in combat is going to be heavily based on their ability to see letters and figure out which words to spell from them, but random chance does play a sometimes annoying factor as well. In addition to the luck of the draw in terms of which letters show up, sometimes letters will spawn as "crystals" instead of regular letters. These crystals create positive effects for Grimm if used in a word. One causes him to put up a shield if used in a word, another healing him for the amount of damage he deals. Because the crystals are random, there's no way to make sure I can get a crystal when I need it. Worse, the chance to see the crystals is so small that I could go several levels without one showing up.
While crystals provide positive effects to the letters, enemies can provide negative ones. Poison and spike tiles deal damage to you if you play them, plague tiles always deal zero damage to enemies, while stone tiles can't be played at all. Some of the effects are even just cosmetic, with reversal tiles that don't do anything except for flipping the letter in it upside down, so it's a little harder to read. Sometimes it became frustrating to see creative word combos go unused thanks to adverse tile effects, but it also felt great when I found creative ways around it.
Every time I killed enemies, I would be awarded with gems, which I could use to purchase upgrades and items. It's not a unique system in any way, but it's handled very frustratingly here. The amount of gems you get for killing an enemy is often minimal, sometimes not even breaking thirty, but upgrades were often five hundred gems or more. The game tries to alleviate this with quests, which are tasks you can complete to collect gems. You always have three quests at a time, things like "Spell twenty words with an E in them" or "Use twenty tiles from the top row" or "Kill a particular enemy", and completing them awards a large chunk of gems. I found a lot of these quests actively hindered my progress, as I would have to go out of my way to spell words that don't exactly assist me because I need the gems that the quests give.
The first time you go through a stage, you'll just have to beat it normally. After you do that, then you can replay the stage with some special modifiers to earn more awards. This could be things like only words of a certain length counting, or enemies having special abilities. It's nice that you can replay stages to get more gems without it being the same, but the grind sets in fast, and I soon found myself wondering when it'd end.
There's also an endless mode available. Here you just keep moving forward fighting enemies until you lose. You always start with the same stats and weapons only change visually. As you kill monsters, they'll drop coins which you can occasionally use to upgrade your stats or buy items. It's a decent bonus, but it doesn't add much to the game other than giving you something to do if you finish all the levels.
Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey does have one nice thing going for it, and that's the game's soundtrack. It doesn't quite fit with the on-screen action, but it sounded good and kept me tapping along even when I was constructing words. I do wish the game's visuals were more impressive, as they reminded me more of a flash game that I'd find on Newgrounds than anything else. Most of the enemies aren't very interesting either, the majority being either generic ghosts or giant rabbits for some reason.
That's it for Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered. The spelling RPG stuff is serviceable, but there's not much to the game. It's good to pick up and play for fifteen minutes here or there, but I wouldn't recommend any longer than that. If you want a spelling RPG in your life, then you could do worse, but you could also do better.
Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered has some decent gameplay, but the game seems focused on little other than continuously grinding until you're bored of it.