W.E.L.D.E.R. is what happens when a word game meets a tile-swapping puzzle game. The slow paced but challenging iOS title from Highline Games has a sharp focus that sticks firmly to word crafting. No weirdo bonus mini-games, clowns, hidden objects or other gimmicks, just long levels of wrapping your brain around a grid of letters. Oh, and just so you know, W.E.L.D.E.R. stands for Word Examination Laboratory for Dynamic Extraction and Reassessment. Aren't you glad you were curious?!
The main mode in W.E.L.D.E.R. fills your iOS device's screen with letter tiles of various types and materials. By tapping one letter, then tapping another adjacent letter, you can swap tiles to build words. When you make a word, those tiles vanish, dropping the above letters down and filling the top with more. You have a limited number of swaps per game, and running out is what spells "theend" to your round, but you can always earn more swaps by scoring more points!
Tiles have different point values in W.E.L.D.E.R., from the lowly common consonant all the way to the shiny and elusive Z. Special tiles also appear and grant you bonus points if used in a match, but most of the time it's just you and a grid full of letters. Wooden tiles give you no points but serve as blanks, allowing you to stamp any letter on the face you need. Great for getting out of tough situations, but not so useful for building up a good score.
Combos are also possible in W.E.L.D.E.R., but you can only pull them off if you plan several moves ahead (or are just really lucky). Words can be made horizontally or vertically, but they must always read from left to right or top to bottom. If you're clever, though, you can create palindromes, a feat that earns you one of the game's many achievements!
Analysis: W.E.L.D.E.R. is such a simple game, you'll kind of wonder why you didn't think of doing this with a Scrabble board years ago (hint: it's because stacking the tiles on end is a really tough thing to do). One grid, one mess of letters, one way to get rid of them. Swapping tiles to make words is more challenging than you might realize, but if you think it's an impossible task, you'll probably be surprised at how workable the concept is!
The W.E.L.D.E.R. sandbox is the main mode of play, and it goes on as long as you have swaps left to use. You can unlock an additional mode after playing for a while, and new modes are in the works. Probably the best feature of the game, though, is the detailed set of statistics W.E.L.D.E.R. keeps on the words you make. Longest combo, number of tiles welded, total points, best word, palindromes welded... it's all there under the Stats button, and it's great to look back on, especially after you've had the game for some time.
W.E.L.D.E.R. is simple, but highly addicting. It's the kind of word game you'll love to have on hand for vacations, long car or bus trips, and quiet nights when everybody else is off watching some lame movie.