REVIEW: Quarrel. Kicking ass and taking names with the power of words.
Quarrel will delight and inform you, says us. Full review after the jump.
Imagine video games never existed just for a moment. Imagine never waking up on a launch day filled to the brim with pulsating excitement and indescribable joy, knowing that this is the moment you’ve been waiting for for so long. Imagine game companies didn’t spend millions upon millions on research and development creating blockbuster media entertainment for your home consoles, removing the entire idea of alpha and beta tests, spend millions on marketing and distribution to gaming retail outlets. Just imagine this for a moment, would you even be reading this right now? No, you wouldn’t.
What is your source of entertainment? Well, board games. The historic source of gaming that outdates video gaming by quite a considerable margin and leaves the industry in the dust when it comes to sales and revenue. Board games have a classic place in billions of hearts, and are still to this day released and used by many across the world as their chosen choice of entertainment at parties and the like. Board games will always be here to stay, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Of course, mixing the two together? Well, nirvana.
Video games based on board games is nothing new. There are tons and tons (and tons and tons) of video game replications of our favourite board games, and some are actually quite good – ‘Monopoly Streets’ comes to mind – despite a wide variety of most being left to rot in the deepest depths of Wii and DS hell. Playing board games online with your friends and family across the world has replaced playing board games on your living room floor, with people choosing to play ‘Trivial Pursuit’ in glorious HD rather then dusting off the board and organising the question cards so you know them all off by heart. Mum, if you’re reading this – I never did that. I swear.
Of course, a classic word game is a fun way to pass some time. While the classics don’t even require boards as the classic way to play word games would naturally just be with a pen and a pad, can you think of the biggest, most successful word games ever made? Well, of course – ‘Scrabble’ comes to mind. ‘Scrabble’ is enormous and is to this day still found in every cupboard under the stairs, along with being found on every device you can imagine to play digitally. Yes, ‘Scrabble’ is great, and makes you feel so damn clever when you outwit your opponent with your mind rather than your fists, but the feeling of genuine victory is lost when you can’t really claim anything over your crushed enemy. You want to claim this victory, shove it in their face and have them leave the planet forever because your uncontrollable awesomeness has rendered your opponent surplus to existence. You want this?
Ladies and gentlemen, ‘Quarrel’ is the game for you.
A word game, on Xbox Live. There are plenty, but this one is special. Originally found famously in the depths of iOS, ‘Quarrel’ makes its home console debut completely intact. The same zany hilarity is assured, presentation wise we’re more or less looking at the exact same game, with the cuteness still well and firmly intact. It’s a gorgeous looking game, sharing a similar ilk to ‘Mario Party’ games where you know you can just smile and enjoy yourself just by looking at the title screen. There is nothing intimidating about the game, and this should suit players of all ages. With the slightest link of HD paint to make it look as beautiful on a 50 inch HD as it did on a Retina iPhone screen, ‘Quarrel’ gets top marks in the presentation department.
With the spirit of ‘Scrabble’ ghosting throughout the game, it’s no surprise this game will make you want to scream when you realise how stupid you are when you can’t find words with any more than four letters. It’s what makes the game so stimulating. If you want to succeed you have to focus and use your brain at its peak. Our Editor may want to avoid this one.
What’s changed from the iOS version then apart from the visual upgrade?
‘Quarrel’ is at its heart a turn based strategy game. You have an army of spikey troops who you will coordinate across a map, with your aim of decimating the opposing troops with the power of your words. QI is waiting for you, folks. Of course, you don’t play God and just stand on high, informing your troops on what to do, it’s up to you to lead your troops into battle. This is where your inner thesaurus is needed. You need the land your enemy is standing upon, and the only way to get them to disperse is to take them on in an almighty battle of words.
As you can see from the screen-grab above, this is your battle station. You’re given an anagram to pick apart the letters, asking you to create a word out of the letters you’re given. The team with the highest scoring word is victorious and takes the section of the map off the opposing team. Of course, as the jumble of words you’re given is an anagram, if you’re quick enough you decode the word and use that as your weapon however with another to ‘Scrabble’, the longest word isn’t necessarily the highest scoring. Particular words will count for more points, so long as you have enough troops. In a twist dynamic that I find impressive, you can only use as many letters as you have troops in that particular area of the map. Meaning you can only make three letter words if you only have three troops on that territory, which certainly makes you work harder to get a word as you only have three letters to work with. Of course, one could claim it would be easier with less troops, making more basic words with the letters at your disposal, however I found the opposite seemed to happen to me, as I could make words a bit easier for five or six troops, but not so much with three or four. Maybe I’m just stupid.
Another section of the game I found to be very useful was the rewards system. Every point you earn in the game fills a small bar with surrounds your Xbox Avatar. When this bar is filled players are dropped reserve troops that you can call at the start of a battle to improve your numbers without having to move others around. I dig this, muchly.
With the game being on Xbox Live, naturally its biggest draw from the original iOS version is its online multiplayer.
‘Quarrel’ throws you a single trailer option along with online multiplayer (no local multiplayer though, which is just bad times). The single player starts off pretty nicely, with a full game tutorial allowing you to practice each aspect of the single player experience. Along with the single player you have Challenege, Domination and Showdown modes, with varying numbers of events between each one.
One thing I should mention is the change in difficult between the earlier and later levels. Essentially, if you’re a Countdown Conundrum LEDGE graduating from Mensa after the first week of attendance, you should have no problems here. However, if you’re sadly none of these things above, then you’re going to find it pretty hard going. The words that the AI come up with are frightfully bedazzling, forcing you to question your own intelligence because you genuinely have never heard of these words the AI is so simply creating in front of your eyes. Essentially, if you want to progress pass these levels you’ll need to have a kind of Shakespearean ability with words, requiring you to play a perfect game every time. Really difficult, and sadly stifles the single player somewhat, which is upsetting considering the game is based on your knowledge of words which are more than 4 letters. On the flipside, you’ll definitely learn something eh?
The games standout mode is absolutely the online multiplayer. The sheer amount of customisation is worth the price along, where you can create your own games and then jump into an action in both player and ranked matches. The IQ meter (that nasty humbling bastard) gives you the opportunity to play against people of a similar level. It does get pretty heated, but it’s pretty fantastic.
At just 400 Points, you can’t really go wrong. Kill some time and kick back, if you’re willing to mellow your patience and expand your vocabulary in the process, ‘Quarrel’ will make you smile indefinitely.★★★★★★★★★★
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