One of the things I love about mobile gaming is that it allows indie developers to put twists on classic games and make them work properly for a touch screen, while adding unique elements of their own. Wordiamo is a fantastic example of this, as it is a refined, updated version of Scrabble that just works brilliantly on iOS.
Perhaps labelling it as a ‘version’ of Scrabble doesn’t do Wordiamo justice, as it really is its own game, but it does help to describe what the game is all about. You are presented with a large board, and much like Scrabble, you must create words to place on the board out of some you have been randomly given. You can use letters from the words that are already on the board to make up words that would have been otherwise impossible, and there are extra scores that you can get for doing so.
The major difference between this and Scrabble is the fact that you don’t need to connect words on the board; in Wordiamo you are free to place them anywhere. There are many other, smaller differences such as the multiplier no longer relying on special squares, but that is the big one.
I actually really like the changes to the scoring, as I feel it opens the game up for tactical play. When you can’t connect words, which in the short-term loses you a multiplier, you create smaller islands of words. The real trick to the game is learning where best to place these islands in relation to the main letter group, in addition to getting the right letters in these islands, all while not giving your opponent any obvious advantage.
Using this, I was able to beat an opponent by placing an island further away from the ‘mainland’, filled with juicy tempting verbs. My opponent took the bait, while I was actually building towards a fairly huge score elsewhere on the board.
A big shadow hanging over each game is the ability to play 8 letter words for an instant win. However, earning an 8th letter is not that easy, they must be played onto the main group for a knockout and your opponent will know it is a possibility, so wins using this are rare, even if they can be frustrating for the other player.
There are several ways to play Wordiamo, with the main one being via Game Center for online play. This works well, and is rightfully the focus of the game but thankfully we also have offline pass and play, as well as a solitaire mode. You have no idea how many games like this that we review here, that have online play but nothing for the local player, so full kudos to the developer.
The game itself looks good enough, and is clean and bright, with clever use of a zoom function to keep a good balance between placing letters and getting an overview of the board. I liked the font that is used during gameplay, but an option to change fonts would be good, and provide something to work towards if fonts were an unlockable bonus.
The ability to very easily share screenshots is a nice touch and will help the game grow as people ask friends for help.
Overall, Wordiamo is a highly enjoyable touch screen board game that has plenty of content and many ways to play with friends, strangers or even by yourself. Getting high scoring words is naturally satisfying, and I am quite taken with the scoring system as a whole, as it feels central to the game and not something that has been tacked on. Wordiamo comes with one of our highest recommendations.