Can you find inner peace with a word game?
Word games are perhaps the most widely spread genre in the App Store. It is also one of the few genres that you can play between platforms. Wordfeud for example can be seen on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The chase to create something new is always on, but most attempts are either reskinned versions of Scrabble, or mashups between Scrabble and RPG elements. I have spent months with Wordfeud, Words With Friends, and Hexalex, but those are all about the friends I play against. I have been waiting for a word game to come along to swipe me off my feet, to hook me and to keep me hooked. This has not happened since I started playing Bookworm on my iPhone 3G, but it is never too late to find a new love. QatQi is the answer to my prayers; it is a word game not trying to take the success of something already in existence. It is something completely new both in terms of gameplay, structure and presentation. Starting with gameplay it shines by combining elements of word gaming, crosswords and puzzles. One thing it also uses to great effect is exploration. When you start a puzzle you are faced with a blank canvas, and a row of letters below. The starting point is shown, but from that point where you place your first letter you are on your own. The aim of the game is to manage to place all your letters on the board. Initially this is easy with large boards to play without any borders. As the game progresses the levels get more and more intricate. You might have to pass long corridors demanding you to save up for some wicked long word.
When a letter is used another takes it place in the row below. This is not easy to predict, and you can only play with the hand you currently hold. Backing, or rather undoing is easy. It is also the only way the game makes an income, as you can buy a rather large pack of undos at $1.99. Considering that the game is free, and you can get hours of gameplay for free before having to consider the undo pack I find it fair. Those buying it will already have gotten 40-80 hours of free word puzzle gaming.
The structure of the game follows no known word game regulation, at least not known to me. Instead it works like an advanced crossword puzzle with an ever increasing difficulty each day. The level structure is beautifully presented as a large ring with smaller rings circling outwards. You start at the centre, and work your way outward to fill in the entire ring. Each day a new puzzle is set in place, and the difficulty goes up as the week progresses. Kind of like life at work for many people.
Having the circular structure that shows progress clearly is really rewarding. It is almost like a piece of religious roadmap going on, and quite frankly I found it cool.
The presentation is really special with all black, and just the letters and bonus tiles showing up. It is easy to get drawn in, and really find time to relax with QatQi. There are no time limits to stress you out. Instead you can take your time, and move letters around to maximize the potential of each individual letter.
Once every letter has been placed the game is over. In reality however it isn’t, as the game is great at giving you feedback on the puzzle you just completed. There are pie charts, and status bars for a lot of different mechanics. Exploration: how much of the puzzle did you explore for example. Special gold coins can also be found, and collected and these give quite a lot of bonus. I might not care too much about individual stats, but I find it really great to have them there to compare how I get better at the game.
Some things are missing to make QatQi extra special. It is a great game, but somehow it could become even greater. More interaction between players would be awesome. I don’t know how it would be done, but somehow I can see this being played cooperatively by two or more. Perhaps the first mega-multiplayer word game with hundreds of player on each puzzle?
Another thing that limits the game somewhat is the sometimes to forgiving dictionary used. I have managed to play words that I don’t think should be legal, I know I can’t use them in Scrabble for example.
QatQi is a great relaxing word game that has taken the next step in the evolution of the genre. As it is free, and universal I urge everyone to try it.
QatQi Free Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: ZWorkbench, Inc.