From my understanding growing up, video games were either really fun or an educational game that fooled you into thinking it was a fun game. If you took some time and looked at the collection of games my friends and I had growing up you would see games that revolved around action, adventure and shooting things. It wasn’t that we were against learning, but we never found a happy medium with the game we liked and game that had lesson to teach. I feel that it wasn’t until mobile games came out that there was finally some headway into the mixture of both learning and having a great time playing a video game. A few years ago there was a game created by Bacon Bandit Games called Letter Quest: Grimms Journey that was on Steam and later a mobile version was put out for Android and iOS. The game had great reviews and it was a hit, so this year Digerati helped publish the game on the Xbox One as Letter Quest: Grimms Journey Remastered.
I was able to get some time in with the game on my Xbox One and test it to see how it was. I made sure not to read any past reviews and not even watch any gameplay that had been recorded on Youtube. I felt that if I was going to play this game and give it a fair review, I wanted to go in with a clear mind and allow the game to do it’s job by providing me with a feeling.
I am a big art style type of guy. I’ve made it perfectly clear on this site many times that if the art style is bad then I already have a hesitation to pick up and play the game. I understand that at times an art style is conducive with the type of game it is, but I’m still a little bias on what I accept. As soon as the game downloaded and the title card popped up I was relieved. If you read comics then you may be familiar with the drawing style of Scottie Young, he draws very colorful cartoon-like characters and does a lot of variant covers for comic books. The art style I saw was exactly like a Scottie Young cover and I was so happy. I didn’t know one thing about this game and I already I knew that I wanted to get into these characters, because the two obvious main characters looked cheery and excited. Even though there were no mouths, their eyes told their emotion and in the world of comic books masked characters can only speak with their eyes.
After I got past the cheery title card, I got to the main screen and noticed that there was no option for any type of multiplayer. The only gameplay types offered at story mode or endless, which is just go for as long as you can with your life and some add-ons. When I play a game I always go through the story mode, because the best way to get a feel for everything in the game and they introduce all weapons and power-ups slowly as you progress. I never understood why people immediately jump into multiplayer matches before even playing the main campaign, they always have an adjustment time of getting the hang of everything. Needless to say I opened up story mode and started my journey.
It may sound like a negative thing, but have yet to finish this game. There is so much going on and so many things that can be done that you want to don’t mind staying in an area for a long time. I believe I just game you some opinion without context, sorry about that. The story is that you are grimm reaper who wants to find the nearest pizza place, which sounds like a really basic story and it honestly is. After you find the place you want to go to the game starts and you are given a pathway fill with squares, each having 4 stars. I’ve seen stars on levels and to me I thought I had to beat it in a certain way to get all four, but I was wrong. In face you’ll need to play the level four different time in four different ways to obtain star. Each star has it’s own stipulation along with a crystal value, which I’ll get to in a little bit so bare with me. When you highlight each of the stars you are given a description of the stipulation along with question marks that represent monsters, treasure chests or merchants you will run into during the level. The first star is always just get through the level and the rest of the stars will then be available. No matter what star you go to the number of question marks doesn’t change, but you do get a new goal on how to beat the level. There’s always a time challenge which gives you a goal to beat it at or under, a stipulation that you must beat the level using words that have a certain number of letters and then a real tough star that has all enemies get more powerful.
I through some information above that didn’t get explained, so allow me to start. Once you pick your stipulation you are brought to the level and your character walks directly up to the first enemy. I noticed that there wasn’t a time limit on the first star so I took my time looking around before I made any moves. On the top left you have your HP bar, in the top middle you have your point counter and on the right you have an enemy and crystal counter. On the bottom right you have the information of the monster you are facing, in the middle there are 15 letters to use and on the left there a section where text appears. Now on each side of the 15 letter choices there is a refresh button to swap out letters and and an attack button that lights up when a valid word is spelled. Pending any stipulation, the main goal for at least the first star is to spell a long word and use it to attack the enemy. Each letter has a single dot, two dots or three dots and that represents how powerful the letter is and the word you spell can be. The most powerful the word the more damage it causes. Fighting brings in the art of role playing games where it’s turn based and even swapping out letters counts as your turn. On the bottom left where text is displayed correctly spelled words that you attacked with are shown with their dictionary definition, so you can learn whatever word you just happen to throw together. and it will even show you the amount of damage the word did to give you some perspective. Each defeated enemy drops crystals and at the end of the level you come up a pile of crystals that you gives you some, also the first time you finish a star you get a crystal bonus. The only thing that sucks is that they don’t have to spell any words, they just attack you.
You may be wondering what these crystals I’m talking about do, and in a nutshell they’re your currency. For the first couple of levels you just collect with a small available shop to upgrade your life, weapon power and armor but it’s only until you start unlocking merchants that the real shop items appear. Not only can you improve your weapon and armor, but you can buy and add books that help with attack bonuses, crystals you get per defeat and health regeneration. This is where the game sinks its claws into you and makes you want to grind to get as many crystals as possible. Once you upgrade an item, it stays there but the crystal cost goes up and you have to backtrack to past levels to start farming money. If you want to know why this gave has taken so long its the crystal factor, I spend hours grinding past levels and because they’re low in crystals it takes a while. There are also ongoing quests that give crystals as well. These quests are as simple as use a certain number of 3 lettered words or take a certain amount of damage, and since these are ongoing the more you play the more you’ll just unlock.
During battles you not only have your upgraded items that you’re long grinding time has allowed you to buy, but you also have special letters, chests and potions to use. One of the always available items to buy are a potion to refill health and clear up damaged letter tiles. As you go through the game some levels will have tiles that hurt you by being covered in substances and there will be tiles that are shiny that can help you. The good and bad the potion you can use to clear up tiles is that it clears up all the tiles, but you only get one at first. The shiny tiles do give you boosts in attack and life for a couple turns and the treasure chests are a guessing game. Each treasure chest gives a number of blank squares and its up to you to pick the correct letters without getting 5 wrong guesses. There are no hints and there’s an achievement for guessing the word without making a wrong guess.
If you are looking to get some achievements then all you have to do is keep playing this game, because the seriously just pop up in time. A few do require you do certain actions, but if you keep grinding and upgrading and unlocking items the achievements will just roll in.
From the hours I’ve played this game I really enjoy it and the soundtrack is really well put together. The game play was fun and it brought together the turn based RPG style attacks and I get to learn something in a fun way. I don’t mind hanging out in an area and grinding for hours so that didn’t bother me at all, I just saw the number of crystals I had to hit to get my upgrade and that’s all I focused on. I also really just like the characters, there’s something fun about them that I don’t mind seeing again and again on my screen. I was of the mindset that this would be a 10-15 minute pallet cleanser after playing other games, but after unlocking all the merchants and seeing what they offer my mind was changed. My mind really changed when I saw the bonus levels open up with extremely tough monsters and all I wanted to do get more crystals and get a better weapon and better armor.
If there was something negative to say about this game, its that if you don’t like backtracking or grinding then you can probably get through the game but it will be difficult and you won’t be able to enjoy all of it. I also had an issue of being too relaxed at times, because when I read I get sleepy and sitting in my comfortable recliner really relaxed me. I suppose that’s mostly a personal issue and not so much the games fault.
If you’re interested but need just a bit more to tip you over, then allow me to reveal the amazingly low price of $10 on the Xbox One store. For the amount of gameplay you get, the price is a great bargain, and if you’re a writer then this is the best way to improve not only your vocabulary but get your creative juices flowing, especially on those timed levels. There are no micro-transactions in this game so when you see a high price then you better know you’re going to work for it. We don’t have a rating system, but if it helps I would give this game a 4.5/5. If you’re not use to it the backtracking can become cumbersome at times, and when the prices get really high you may have to wait to get to an area the next day because you’ll spend a whole day grinding.