Yo dawg, I heard you like classic adventure games and word games, so we put a word game in your classic- you get the idea. Being touted by the gaming elite, including Double Fine’s Tim Schafer and Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins (Tycho), Spellirium is a witty adventure game much like those old LucasArts and Sierra titles. In keeping with the times, the game resorts to a tile-based word game, which will either make you cheer or squirm. As a Scrabble non-afficianado, It made me squirm.
You play Brother Todd, a sheltered initiate of the Runekeeper order. Spellirium looks like a mere fantasy game, but it’s actually a post-apocalyptic setting in which reading and spelling are outlawed, so these sacred runes you master, which are alien to everyone you meet, are just letters of the alphabet. It’s this clever little plot device that allows you to tie words together via your SpellCaster to defeat enemies, spin yarn, or squish spiders.
I got to play with the alpha build that’s available to those who pre-order through the game’s site when you pre-order the game, which offers rewards for donations, but doesn’t require them to finish the game. It lacked most of the voice-over and, well, most of the game, but you get a pretty clear hint about where the game is going. The game is a looker in the art department and it’s pretty funny to boot, even without actors to sell the jokes. What caught me off-guard – aside from not having the vernacular to be effective – was the word game. Your goal is to pick out words in any four directions with the ability to swap tiles at the expense of a red meter on the top of your PDA device. The setups are pretty interesting: for example, you’ll need to use words like “cut” and “shear” when you need to shear a sheep. Makes sense, right? Well, only until you try to think of more words for “trim”, like I did, and come up way short. Seriously, think of some. It’s harder than it sounds. I consulted a thesaurus and started whipping out almost everything in there to no avail. I imagine when your swap meter runs dry, you’ll simply fail the puzzle, but here, you just push on. That helps, because otherwise I would’ve been stopped super early.
The game is initially destined for PC and Mac, but it would a crime to not bring it to Android and iOS devices since the game’s obviously perfect for them. The game will be finished “when it’s finished” and as I mentioned earlier, you can still get your pre-order on.