Words, words, words. If you're into making words, Ruzzle Adventure wants to help. This free-to-play word matching game blends the ever-shifting mechanics of Bejeweled with the verbosity of Bookworm, yet somehow manages to miss a few key elements found in both.
Ruzzle Adventure has players matching letters to create words, chaining them together to create high scores. Letters can be chained in any direction, so, as long as two letters are next to each other, you can use them to create a word. As you progress through a level letters will randomly be granted multipliers, increasing the score value of any words you use with them in it. These multipliers start as low as X2, but can soar in excess of X10; trying to snag these high-value letters adds some nice strategy to an otherwise straightforward affair. Additional wrinkles include bombs which will explode an entire row or column of letters for additional points, or special levels that require you to fight back a rising tide by rapidly completing words, dropping gems to the bottom of the screen by using the letters underneath them, and more. There are a ton of levels for players to rampage through, hunting down each and every high-score star, and while most levels have some sort of additional wrinkle to them, the lack of flashiness leaves them feeling more perfunctory than punchy.
While Ruzzle Adventure's basic letter-matching gameplay manages to be pretty damn fun, its development team cut a few corners here and there, and it shows. Some words you might expect to work don't, while some you'd expect not to work, such as a few curse words, do. There's no background music during any given level, leaving you with awkward silence as you ponder your next move, and most of the game's animations are unimpressive, at best, with the bombs' exploding animation looking downright abysmal. And since you have to sit through these lame animations quite often, at times you'll feel like you're playing a terrible browser game rather than something someone hopes you'll pay money for.
As with all free-to-play games, there's a catch. You begin the game with five lives, and every time you fail or restart a stage, one is consumed. These lives replenish at the rate of approximately one every half-hour, but, of course, you can always spend coins to replenish them— coins you primarily acquire with real-life money. With as little as is being offered to entice you to spend real money, it seems strange that its development team chose to go free-to-play, as the game could be almost exactly the same, but cost a few dollars up front, and would be considerably better for it.
Though Ruzzle Adventure's core gameplay makes for some delightful word-making action, its free-to-play trappings and lackluster presentation drag the experience down considerably, leaving you with a niggling feeling that you'd be having more fun playing Bejeweled, Bookworm or any number of similar, but better-executed, titles.
This review is based on a digitally downloaded copy of Ruzzle Adventure for iOS.