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For: iPad   Also on: iPhone

Solo Scrabble made cool

Product: QatQi | Developer: ZWorkbench | Publisher: ZWorkbench | Format: iPad | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
QatQi iPad, thumbnail 1
Word games are often fun, but seldom sexy.

Making words out of letters just feels too academic to be cool. Scrabble might be the most popular boardgame around, but it's also become the short-hand for a dull evening in.

QatQi looks to change all that with a funky-fresh art style and an innovative, highscore-chasing structure.

QI, indeed

If you were to reduce QatQi to just two words you might choose 'solo' and 'Scrabble,' which doesn't sound very cool at all.

The idea is to keep forming words from a constantly refreshing selection of six letters. As in Scrabble, these letters have a value according to their difficulty, and words must be branched off one another.

It's from this solid but unassuming starting block that QatQi starts to distinguish itself. The game board is shaped according to the difficulty level, so it can range from a plain square board to a long, thin, multi-segmented affair.

Where you play the letters can also boost your score, with up to a 7x multiplication effect denoted by the relevant number of dots. If you find a golden coin in a slot, meanwhile, you'll get a massive bonus.

Honeyed words

We should highlight QatQi's art style again, because it really is lovely. The game board is like a constantly evolving circuit diagram, and the level select screen is like a big safe tumbler - complete with satisfying clicking sounds.

Speaking of which, the game's levels have been moulded into a day-to-day calendar whereby you can play a game each day, with the difficulty getting progressively harder as you get towards Sunday. You can also go back and play previous weeks, so you shouldn't be left short of puzzles to tackle.

In truth, we found this system to be confusing and unnecessarily restrictive. It's a bit of a gimmick, really, and having to wait to play the trickier stages just seemed daft.

Much better is the game's end-of-puzzle stat breakdown, which analyses your performance and how it matches up to others in your town, county, and country in a number of areas. It's a real incentive to keep playing, which is a good job, really.

Words without friends

QatQi is fun to play for an hour or so, but you'll soon realise that there's very little if any variation.

What's more, the core premise, while offering you all those performance comparisons, remains true to that 'solo Scrabble' premise. It's a battle against your own vocabulary first and foremost, and there's no way to quickly compare scores with your friends.

By contrast, Words With Friends, with its pure 'online Scrabble' approach, easily tops QatQi for fun and longevity - if not for style and innovation.

QatQi is an admirable attempt to breathe new life into the word puzzle genre, and should satisfy Words With Friends fans looking for something fresh. Ultimately, though, it seems that you still can't beat a good night in with the Scrabble.
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 4 December 2012
QatQi is a fun and immensely stylish word puzzler, though its solo Scrabble gameplay isn't quite as innovative or compelling as its presentation would suggest
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