7 Little Words for the iPhone and iPad is one of those deceptively simple games that is so basic, you can hardly believe it’s a game at all, and yet, for whatever reason, you still can’t put it down. A brilliant challenge for the brainy set, if you like crosswords and word puzzles, you may find yourself sucked into this smart, free game.
The basic concept is very, very simple; your job is to try to fit together letter tiles to make complete words that satisfy their clues. At the top, you have 7 short crossword-style clues and their letter counts. At the bottom, the 7 words have been broken up into two and three letter chunks and scrambled around into a kind of chopped syllable salad.
For example, you might see “Jolly gift-giver (5 letters)” as a clue and the answer is “SANTA”, but it’s been broken up into “SA” and “NTA”. Now, if the tiles are right next to each other, it’s a piece of cake, but it’s a lot trickier when you have to pick out the “SA” and “NTA” from 23 other tiles. Untangling all 7 words is often a process of elimination, but it’s oh so satisfying when you finally get them all right.
To form words, all you have to do is tap the appropriate tiles and they’ll be automatically entered into the blank field and you can guess whatever or whenever you want. There is no penalty for wrong guesses and there is no time limit, but there are also no hints, so it’s not exactly a game for the faint of brain.
As a concept, I like it a lot, but I must admit that the game leaves a lot to be desired visually. With graphics that are as stripped down as the gameplay, 7 Little Words isn’t going to win any beauty contests. In fact, the overall look of the game can be summed up in a single word: beige. Still, the clean interface makes for an easy user experience, which is key for a thoughtful puzzle game like this.
Now, they say that the best things in life are free, but they also say that you get what you pay for, and in this case, “free” usually means a sneak peek designed to inspire you to open your wallet. The basic version of 7 Little Words comes equipped with 30 free puzzles, but once you’ve gone through those, you can make in-game purchases of additional level packs of 50 for $0.99. Happily, the 30 free puzzles do give you a good taste of the game, so you can figure out if you like it before making a commitment.
Bottom line, while there are certainly much prettier games out there, 7 Little Words is a very solid and smart little app. Crossword puzzle-lovers will eat this one up and ask for more, and with a reasonably generous free version available, there’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t try this one out.
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