Tomes and Quests: a Word RPG is a Scrabble-RPG hybrid with a rather underwhelming art style. While their deliberate attempt at being inclusive is admirable, it falls short solely because the game itself is abjectly mediocre at its best, and awful at its worst.
I’m not sure really where to begin in my criticisms. The art feels completely amateurish and distinctly low budget. I’m sure it’s a stylistic choice, but it doesn’t hit at all for me. To be painfully honest, the art looks like something I’d expect to see in a free game, not in one retailing for $10 USD.
The plot has a party of three college students trapped inside a D&D book, for some reason, and beyond a VERY brief moment of “How did this happen?” the trio ceases to worry or even care about their predicament. They even run into other classmates in the world, yet rather than comparing notes as to why they’re all trapped, they simply fight each other. This would make sense if the others were under some spell affecting their behavior, but they’re not, apparently. They literally recognize your party from the real world. To say that the writing is abysmal is an understatement.
And all of this would be okay, or at least something I could look past, but the gameplay is AWFUL. All the battles are Scrabble based, and played on a 9×9 grid, and there’s usually a couple of words for you to work off of. THE PROBLEM IS THAT IT’S A 9X9 GRID. The reason why Scrabble and similar games work is that you have space to make new words, because the grid is normally 15×15. More often than not, you’re forced to make small words, because everything is cramped. There’s no way to discard tiles that you don’t want, so you’re often forced to go with nonsensical “words” like “Fa”, which the game recognizes, but it DOESN’T recognize other words like “Ward”.
Look at the screenshot above this paragraph. Exactly WHAT are you likely to be able to build off of the word “knives” at all? The cramped board hinders EVERYTHING creative about Scrabble. By all means, put a giant word down the middle of the board, but don’t essentially cut off a quarter of the board with your weird word placement.
Sometimes the game tries to switch things up, like with the above minigame, where you can only score points by playing on green or purple tiles, with the opposite color penalizing you. Oh, and there’s a turn limit. So you’re forced to play tiny words even more than usual, but you better make them count. Otherwise you’ll have to replay the stage, you unlucky bastard. There’s a couple others that are bad, but this one is especially frustrating. If these had been optional challenges that gave some form of reward, I wouldn’t have been upset, but NO, EVERY SINGLE AREA HAS AT LEAST ONE, IF NOT TWO.
In other bizarre design choices, I draw your attention to the above screenshot. Notice the right side, where it says “Wait for ninjas to leave their post,”? THEY LITERALLY MAKE YOU WAIT. YOU CLICK ON THE FREAKING BOX, AND IT STARTS A 5-10 SECOND COUNTDOWN TO MAKE YOU WAIT. YOU HAVE TO STARE AT THE SCREEN, UNTIL THAT COUNTDOWN ENDS. And then, you have to click it again, to go to another tedious fight. Why did we have to wait? Realism? OF ALL THE THINGS TO DO, the dev is choosing to waste your time??? It’s so arbitrary that I can’t even begin to understand what awful decision led them to include this little detail.
Add in that areas are gated off, requiring a certain number of stars (gained by beating enemies in battles) to progress. That would be fine, but you can only gain one star per battle, and enemies get tougher each repeated battle. THAT would be fine, but grinding has no sense of progression, which is absolutely key if you have to grind.
The reality is that the game is just not fun. I simply stopped caring about anything in the game. The pseudo-combat is bad. The writing is terrible and nonsensical. The art is something below budget value. If this was a single person’s passion project, I’d be far more merciful, but this is the dev’s second title, and they got funding from the Canadian government to make it. Don’t buy this half-baked, terribly executed game except at the steepest of discounts. $10 USD is highway robbery.
The Chuck is a lifelong gamer who was born in Ohio, but now lives in much closer proximity to Mickey Mouse.
The Chuck has found his life to be a series of improbable and almost unbelievable events, starting when he was twenty and caught the bubonic plague from a prairie dog. He was as surprised as anyone when he found out that's something that can happen.
When he isn't gaming, The Chuck can be found enjoying baseball, (American) football, pro wrestling, and horror movies. He is most commonly seen in the company of one or more cats.
Reclusive by nature, The Chuck is (like most semi-feral creatures) reward-driven. Approach with caution and some form of treat.