Letterpress is attractively designed with a thin, minimalist look, as you’d expect from a Brichter built program (Brichter is the guy who created Tweetie, which was bought by Twitter). It is a two-player game; you either play against your Game Center buddies, or you can create games with random competitions.
Because the strategy of the game is exceptional–sort of a smart mashup of Strategery and Boggle –it takes a while to fully understand (and master) the rules. Though, Letterpress is addictive, once you get them down.
You start off with a 5×5 grid of letters. On your own turn, you may use the letters to construct a word. The letter tiles needn’t be next to one another; you can use them from everywhere. The tiles you used turn blue after you submit your word. Afterward it is your adversary’s move, and then they try to make a word.
You can not reuse words. If you play “getaways,” your adversary can not play “getaway,” either; words that exist as prefixes of formerly played words are rejected.
When it is your move to construct a word you may use tiles you have already turned blue, use tiles that are unclaimed white, or use the pink-colored tiles your competition played.
There is one significant exception to this, though: If you end up surrounding a blue tile with other tiles of yours (other blue ones), that tile will turn slightly darker in color. So then if whoever you’re playing against uses that tile to spell a word, it won’t turn pink. Thus, one of the most important strategies to implement is to surround your own tiles to lock their color while trying to keep your adversary from surrounding their own.
After all the tiles are used (or after both of you have skipped a turn), the game ends. Whichever person ended up turning more tiles to her or his color emerges as the winner.
I analyzed this game for several weeks, and I often had numerous games being played at the same time. This game is surprisingly fun and involved enough that I would have to tear myself away to find some time to eat something.
There are definitely some areas where the game could improve upon. Myself, I would love the choice to shoot the breeze with my rival; doing the whole trash talk thing in a Messages back channel is an unnecessary additional measure I’d rather not have to take. I’d also like for the game to show me that I’m trying to spell out a word that has already been played. An easy thing to forget in a game that spans numerous days.
You can end up seeing that display of words that have previously been played, but only if you pony up $1. Letterpress itself is free; a $1 purchase from inside the game unlocks that choice, as well as other color schemes and the option to play more than 2 games at a time. You will need to spend that extra dollar if you find that you really enjoy the game; I certainly did!
The truth is, none of my gripes with the game affect how interesting Letterpress is, as it is still extremely fun with these issues. Lovers of word games will not be disappointed. If you are beginning to tire of Words With Friends, or simply need more word-centered enjoyment, Letterpress deserves your attention.