Word Examination Laboratory for Dynamic Extraction and Reassessment, or W.E.L.D.E.R. is a unique word game that presents the essence of word play in a Tetris style board where letters fall from the top when you clear the tiles. The game offers plenty of bells and whistles that help you through 12 treacherous and increasingly difficult levels while keeping things interesting and fun. Most importantly, it's addictive the instant you pick it up and it keeps you coming back long after you've completed the game for the first time.
The basic gameplay in W.E.L.D.E.R. isn't so different from other word games: you must form words with four or more letters to earn points and clear the level. Each level has a set number of words you must clear and as the level goes up the number of words required goes up as well. You only get a set number of moves too, and when you run out of moves (swaps in game's lingo) you'll need to either restart the game or give up. You can restart the game from the last level or the beginning. Why would anyone want to restart the game from level one, you ask? The game accumulates the points you've earned and unused moves (swaps) to give you bonus moves. So if you've had a good run you'll set up later levels that are more difficult with better conditions and better chance to complete them.
Each tile on the board has point values and the more rarely used letters the higher the points. Like in a Tetris game, some tiles block the column until you've used the letter on that tile and others are too hot or toxic to touch (move) without using any tool. Some tiles in W.E.L.D.E.R. also become instant high point earners and others by forming eight-letter words. To help you get over the hurtles or take advantage of the bonuses, the game offers reverse, group and jump letters in addition to the neighboring swaps. You earn these additional moves by completing the levels required, and they give you additional freedom as to where and how you can move letters. The game also offers a global board refresh at least once per level, so if you've a board that's full of consonants and no vowels left, you can get a fresh board.
In addition to the tricks in the game W.E.L.D.E.R. also has a built-in dictionary where you can look up a word anytime. This is handy because most of the names of cities and some other commonly used nouns aren't allowed unless they have additional meanings. So it's good you can check before you use up the precious swaps or limited number of undoes. You can also play against a friend in challenge mode and earn achievements in Game Center.
Graphics & Sound
The graphics in W.E.L.D.E.R. are sharp on the iPad with Retina Display. The UI looks a bit different between the iPhone and the iPad versions to utilize the screen size better for each device. The tiles have nice textured look and animations are smooth. The built-in tutorial is well designed and both in-game UI and menu screens look polished.
The game doesn't have background music but is filled with sound effects. Every move or action has corresponding sound effect and when you successfully form a word or complete a level, the game gives you auditory feedback with sound FX.
W.E.L.D.E.R. is a fun word game for those who are looking for a good challenge and for friends who want to challenge each other. The Tetris style board adds an interesting dimension and a new way of thinking how you move the tiles around the board for forming maximum number of words. The game looks polished and has good design in both gameplay and visual and audio package. Since the board is generated at random, each game is different from the last and gives you lots of replay value.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: -4.5- Sharp looking graphics, nicely designed game board and menus. Sound: -4- No BGM but plenty of sound FX. Controls: -5- Touch control works well. Be sure you check out the tutorial on how to move the groups and reverse. Gameplay: -4.5- Fun and addictive with lots of replay value. Could see that it adds more ability such as erasing a tile.
Playing Hints and Tips:
-You can use the apocalypse button once a level, so use it when you're running low on possibilities. -Upgrade your Gigawatts wisely. Plan your moves before upgrading your powers. -Check the words in the W.E.L.D.E.R. dictionary before making them if you're unsure so that you don't waste any "undo".
I really loved the game initially but felt BURNED once they added the gigawatts currency to the game. This turned such a nice tight pure highscore chasing experience into a a "buy your score" situation in which, literally, the game will let you keep playing as long as you're willing to pony up the required cost in gigawatts to keep playing. While gigawatts can be earned in game, even if playing at some master level, you're unlikely to be able to afford more than one basic cheat at the end of a single session.