Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered Review – Spell Check (PS4)
Have you ever been so hard up for a slice of pizza that you would be willing to go to battle with the paranormal forces of evil, just to get your fix? This it conflict that poor Grimm and this friend Rose are up against in Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered, as they venture forth in the never-ending quest to get another bite of that delicious deep dish. Never mind the fact that the main characters are actually Grimm Reapers that lack any corporeal form to actually consume and digest food. They’re hungry! You don’t want to cross a spirit with a sickle when they are hungry.
Grimm and Rose’s journey is one of frequent starts and stops, in their constant directive to move from the left side of the screen to the right. Impeding this progress are the forces of the undead and undesirable, all looking to dispatch of these forbearers of death. Why are these creatures so obsessed with preventing the protagonists from getting a bite to eat? Who knows. All that we know for sure is that the only way to prevent these monsters from quickly grinding the game to a halt is to use the power or words… Yep, you read that right. WORDS.
The main crux of Letter Quest is to do battle with monsters of every variety, using the power of the dictionary as a defense. No, you are not fruitlessly chucking massive leatherbound volumes at ghosts. Instead, you’re forming words to cast spells or attacks, directed at the series of adversaries thrown in your way. The strength of these attacks depend upon a variety of factors including the obscurity of the letters used, the length of the word, or what power ups and multipliers Grimm and Rose have enabled. For example, using letters like Q, X or Z have three times the value of a letter like A, S, or T. Additionally there are more middle tier letters like B or U that can inflict double the damage of the lowest value letters. The goal is unleash the most pain possible, in order to dispatch of enemies swiftly. After all, if you take too much time, enemies tend to dish out a little punishment of their own.
Enemies have their own health bar that the player is tasked with whittling away at through a series of attacks. The trick is that many of these creatures, especially on the higher difficulty levels, have their own unique weaknesses or abilities. For example, there is a certain bunny built like a body builder that takes very little damage from a standard attack. However, when taking damage from a word that contains the letter Q, the damage is multiplied 20 times. This kind of quirk greatly effects the way you would approach the encounter, while you patiently wait for a Q to enter the tray. Sure, it isn’t rocket science, but these permutations on the combat help breathe a little bit more life into what could otherwise be considered a rather thin premise.
R-P-G for the W-I-N
Some other ways in which Letter Quest attempts to expand on the core gameplay is through some light RPG-like mechanics. The in-game currency, which is earned throughout the campaign, can be used to purchase items from the store. These consumables include hit point increases, additional health packs for use in battle or even an increased number of power-up slots. There are also a wide variety of different sickles that get unlocked while progressing through the storyline. These weapons each have their own properties such as the ability to return health to the player, a simple increase to the damage multiplier or augmented currency drop rates. This will be standard fare for role playing veterans, but it does provide some much needed diversity, which ultimately helps the game have far more legs than it deserves.
Lastly, there are spells or abilities that can be equipped that can greatly increase Grimm and Rose’s skills. It is best to think of them like perks in a Call of Duty game. Once you are through a decent portion of the campaign, you will have two or three slots where a perk can be socketed. These items can give increased damage outputs, improved defense under certain scenarios, or even the ability to recover health from time to time. Again, nothing really ground breaking, but it has more depth than one might expect upon a cursory glance.
Stretched to Its Limits
The majority of the action in Letter Quest is made up of the same repetitive combat scenarios, repeated over and over again. However, there are occasional situations where there is a treasure chest mixed in for good measure. Instead of trying to draft words of your own, this time you have to guess a mystery word, in order to unlock the spoils hidden within the chest. Anyone who has ever seen the end of game bonus round on Wheel of Fortune knows exactly how this works. Just remember the old cliché, R-S-T-L-N-E are your friends.
For what it attempts to achieve, Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered is a fairly straightforward experience that grows in complexity in accordance with the player’s abilities. That said, Grimm and Rose’s mission doesn’t offer up enough variation on the core combat mechanics to maintain any sort of longevity. If there were different types of word puzzles for different types of enemies, this could be a very different story. However, ultimately this feels like a one trick pony that has been stretched to every conceivable limit. Though it may be initially enchanting, it won’t take long before Grimm’s spell wears off, leaving players wondering if getting some pizza is really worth all of the hassle.
Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered review copy provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.