Review: Word Forward (Nintendo Switch)

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Word Forward is the latest word puzzle entry on the Nintendo Switch. It’s a simple puzzle game without gimmicks or flair. Yet, it’s a competent and challenging game that will get your brain thinking. 

Each puzzle is a five by five square of jumbled letters that you connect to make three or more letter words. It reminds me of a word search puzzle, except in Word Forward, the letters don’t need to be in a straight line, although they do need to be touching each other.  For example, let’s say you want to spell the word TART, the A might be right below the T, but the R might be diagonal to the A. It’s acceptable, as long as the letters touch one another. 

The goal is to clear all the letters from the board. However, there’s a bit of strategy to the game, as you don’t want to leave too few at the end or find yourself stranding letters so they can no longer connect to others. Nevertheless, you have a few tricks to help you solve the puzzles. For starters, you have two letter swaps, to begin with, allowing you to swap any letters on the board. And you can earn more letter swaps by creating longer words. You also start with two letters on the bottom of the puzzle that you can replace with any letter on the board. Another trick at your disposal is a letter scramble, which gives you all new random letters replacing the remaining ones still on the board. However, this feels like it would be a last resort option, as you may find yourself in a worse situation than where you were previously. You also can change a letter to any letter you wish. And finally, you can blow up a letter with a bomb. The last three tricks you can only do once per puzzle.

As you progress through the puzzles, the game throws a few curve balls at you to keep it challenging. For example, some letters will have arrows on them, which indicate that the following letter in that word needs to be in the direction the arrow is pointing. Another example is that some will have numbers on them, meaning that the number of letters in the word must equal the number presented on the letter. There are 500 puzzles, and with each puzzle, you can earn up to three stars. While this gives each puzzle replayability, it isn’t apparent how to get all three stars. I achieved all three stars in a few puzzles, and then there were puzzles where I didn’t gain any; I have never seen one or two stars. 

You can play with either the touch screen or with controllers, but it seems like the preferred way to play is via the touch screen. This is because playing with controllers feels a bit clunky, as you need to click several different buttons to do each action (completing words, swapping letters), whereas, with the touch screen, it’s as simple as tracing the letters with your finger.

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