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Hugh Likes Video Games: Letter Quest Remastered

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Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered
Bacon Bandit Games
Played on PS Vita
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On the whole, I’ve never gotten into touchscreen games on the PS Vita. The functionality works for the most part, but feels imprecise and gimmicky when I have a suite of perfectly good buttons right there. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised by Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered.
An enhanced port of a computer puzzle game, Letter Quest is a riff on the Puzzle Quest formula of mixing turn-based RPG and Puzzle Game mechanics. The twist is that the game in question is Boggle rather than Bejeweled. Players have a grid of fifteen letters to arrange into words using the touch screen, which works remarkably well here. Each letter scores points which the hero, a cute cartoon death named ‘Grimm’ turns into damage against an enemy. Each level has a few enemies that have different stats and abilities in addition to attacking the hero. For example, they can change the letters on you tiles or give your tiles nasty effects like poison or spikes for a few turns. Outside of combat, players can level up their abilities or tweak the design on their scythe or tile sets.
The puzzle combat is simple and addictive, as it should be. While the ability to level up attacks and boost particular word damage can allow children or limited wordsmiths to power through, the game has a long list of bonus objectives for completionists or players looking for a greater challenge.
As for the design, the monster and character designs are cute, and the remastered scores are pleasant but repetitive, but there isn’t much here in terms of plot. What story there is gets laid out through a set of comic panels players unlock as they progress. It’s all inconsequential and breezy, and seems almost as though these were assets left over from another project, but they all work well enough. The design doesn’t feel the need to justify itself, it’s just a pleasant background to try and rack up a ten-letter SAT word against. But that’s just fine for the price.
Letter Quest Remastered is a pleasant diversion for bibliophiles of all stripes. I played it as a part of Sony’s PS Plus collection, but it, or its slightly downgraded predecessor, is available on just about every console or mobile device store.

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Hugh Likes Video Games: Steamworld Dig

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SteamWorld Dig
Image and Form Games
Played on PS Vita
SteamWorldDig
SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt is a quirky indie platformer.  You play as Rusty, a young steam-powered robot called to a tiny frontier town by his miner uncle. The first thing he has to do, however, is solve his mysterious death.  He left Rusty his mine, so the plan is to dig it out, look for clues, and get upgrades from helpful towns-bots on the surface.
SWD is a fun and colorful game with controls that are very easy to pick up.  As you mine valuables and delve deeper, you come across tougher materials and enemies, but gain access to upgrades and better tools.  The balance is nicely tuned to provide a gently sloping difficulty curve.  There are also plenty of hidden areas and secrets to reach once you upgrade your abilities.
The designs are appealing and fun as well.  The post-human wild west setting is delightful and slightly off-putting at the same time, especially when you start running into irradiated survivors in the underground caves.The only major downside to the game is that it is rather short, even for a puzzle-platformer, and the physics puzzles themselves aren’t too taxing.  With only three main sections, The game can be fully cleared in only a few hours.  There have been further games teased in the “Steamworld” line, so hopefully this will only be a teaser of greater things to come.  As it is, “SteamWorld Dig: A fistful of Dirt” is a fantastic platformer for younger gamers, or a worthwhile afternoon distraction for veterans.