iPad Game Review: Spell Rift for iPad Review
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Spell Rift is a single-player word creation game that requires you to find hidden words by tracing them on your iPad screen.
Spell Rift is a reimagined iPad version of Keiffer Bros' excellent, yet mysteriously pulled iPhone game ABCA. In it, you will face a series of predetermined levels (21 in all), with each offering a different set of challenges. Some require speed, some will task you with finding a certain number of words, some will have you trying to use a certain number of tiles before the timer runs out, etc. Words are created by tracing your finger over them. Up, down, left, right, diagonal; you're going to have to be creative to be successful. Once you form a word, remove your finger from the screen to play it, and watch the tiles disappear and new ones fall from the top of the screen. The game's built-in dictionary is quite extensive and lightning fast. As you are playing, you will know immediately if your word is acceptable or not by way of a series of subtle yet effective audio and visual cues. But wait, there's more! Metallic tiles give point bonuses, steel-riveted tiles must be used four times before they disappear, spinning tiles will change the letter after each move, virus tiles spread their malignance if they are not used immediately, and if bomb tiles aren't used within 4 turns, they end your game. As you can see, there is a great deal of variety to keep you on your toes, and all of it works superbly well. Spell Rift supports Game Center Achievements/Leaderboards and features 21 levels (plus some hidden levels for you to find).
As good as Spell Rift is, however, it is mostly a complete re-skinning of their excellent iPhone game ABCA. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if it weren't for the fact that ABCA is no longer available for download. While it's not unheard of for developers to re-skin older titles and release them with updated graphics and features (although, I am not a fan of buying the same game twice), I find it puzzling that they would pull an iPhone game from the App Store and then release an iPad-only version. Unfortunately, my puzzlement is compounded by irritation because ABCA had features that Spell Rift lacks; specifically, ABCA was open-ended with randomly generated levels while Spell Rift has only a pre-determined number of levels (although, to be fair, they are completely replayable). My fear is that this was by design so that they can sell additional level packs via IAP at some future date. I suppose only time will tell. Still, Spell Rift only falls short when compared to its own progenitor, and it far exceeds any single-player word search game on the App Store.
Spell Rift has fantastically clean and crisp graphics. The virus tiles have an alarmingly fuzzy look, the riveted tiles pop their rivets out one at a time when they are used, the bomb tiles have menacing red lights that wink out as you play, and the spinner tiles look so real you want to reach out and spin them yourself. A great deal of polish and attention-to-detail has been lavished on this game (as with all Kieffer Bros games), and it really enhances gameplay tremendously.
It is a rare thing to find a game with standout sound effects, and it is rarer still to find a word game that succeeds in this way. Spell Rift not only plays great and looks great, but it sounds great, too. Don't get me wrong, though, these are not Michael Bay style sound effects that require you to turn down your volume. The sounds of Spell Rift are subtle and understated, but they are also meticulously designed, and really make this game a joy to play. For those of you who like music while you play, Spell Rift has a very good soothing new age soundtrack. If that's not your thing, however, simply start your own music before launching the game. The sound effects will still work, but the soundtrack will be automatically muted.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Spell Rift offers no IAPs of any kind.
Spell Rift is a great word game for iPad. It's fun to play and looks/sounds great. Although I wish it had some of the features that its precursor ABCA has, it's good enough that I can forgive this transgression and enjoy it for what it is; one of the best (if not THE best) single-player iPad word game on the App Store.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Super-crisp and beautifully animated graphics.
Sound: - 5 - You rarely see the attention to audio detail that you find in Spell Rift.
Controls: - 5 - Uncluttered interface, and flawless word selection mechanic.
Gameplay: - 4 - I would have preferred a straight iPad conversion of ABCA, but it's still great.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Use metallic tiles when you can for point bonuses, but not at the expense of removing dangerous tiles like viruses and bombs. If a spinner tile isn't showing a letter you need for that portion of the board, let it sit; it will show you a new one each turn. Spend some time learning the achievements; some of them are unlikely to stumble upon as you play.
Developer: Kieffer Bros
Release Date: October 24, 2012
Buy App: Spell Rift
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