I love a good word good game. They’re great to pass the time and to pick up and play whenever you have a few minutes to spare. The genre as a whole is perfect for the mobile space and the Nintendo Switch is right in that category when it comes to the portability of the console. Fallen Tree Games’ title Highrise Heroes: Word Challenge doesn’t redefine the genre but the gameplay is solid and it has a few neat tricks to keep the levels from becoming repetetive.
In addition to the gameplay itself, Highrise Heroes has a narrative to go along with it. There’s a method and a reasoning to the different challenges that spice up the levels.
Following a sudden earthquake, Seb must escape a crumbling skyscraper. Along the way he will make some intriguing new friends, and together they might just unravel the sinister origins of the ‘quake, assuming they can evade the mysterious stalker in close pursuit. Starting at the top and working down, the game’s 90+ levels take place inside the skyscraper. The player creates words on a grid of letters and obstacles, clearing a path for Seb and friends to descend.
The game has more than 90 levels of the main game and another 60 bonus levels. In the game you start at the top of the building and are making your way to the ground floor as you evacuate. Each level that you play is a floor as you make your way down.
The game board consists of a grid of letter tiles, six spaces wide and another seven spaces tall. Scattered among these tiles are your character tiles, which you will need to move to the bottom and then off the board. You do this by forming words of at least three characters. The tiles used to create the word disappear and the remaining tiles around fall down to fill the space. Once all of the characters are clear you have completed the level, though some levels have other clear conditions as well.
There are also other tiles scattered around the board depending on the level. Some of them are not letter tiles and cannot be moved while others require other conditions to be met in order to clear them.
Adding to the strategy in Highrise Heroes: Word Challenge is the addition of a life meter or sorts. As the characters are in a building that is undergoing evacuation the air is thin. They have ‘life meters’ which show their oxygen levels. You’ll need to make sure that they have enough air to breathe, and if they don’t then they’ll die and you’ll have to start over. You give them oxygen by creating words with letter tiles that are blue, and connecting the word to the character tiles.
In fact linking words to and through characters is a great strategy in of itself. Even though the characters don’t have a letter value themselves, they can be considered a ‘blank’ and a word can be formed through them. Have a ‘T’ tile to the left and an ‘I’ and ‘E’ to the right, connect the letters together via the character. It’s a neat idea and really opens up the word building possibilities.
Making a word that is four letters (or more in later levels) will create an explosive tile. This tile will explode and clear out the eight tiles surrounding it. Creating the longer words can be very helpful in expediting the characters’ decent to the bottom of the board.
One thing that is nice about Highrise Heroes: Word Challenge is that the clear conditions aren’t always the same. While a good chunk of the levels have a goal of getting the characters to the bottom of the screen, with varying degrees of difficulty and obstacles. Some of the levels task you with collecting a number of items, using up a specified set of tiles, and more. Also while most of the time you are limited to a set number of moves to clear the level, some of them give you a timer in order to complete the level or give you a word count goal.
The overall variety in level type, clear conditions, and changing layout of tiles makes every level something new and prevents the game from becoming stagnant.
Another way that Highrise Heroes: Word Challenge shakes things up is that each character that you are trying to save, which sometimes changes depending on the level, also have skills that can be used to help you. Using these skills will cost you a turn or two, but it can be worth it in the end. Skills vary from highlighting the longest possible word in the level, swapping two adjacent tiles, swapping any two letter tiles on the board (this one will cost you two moves), or even replacing a chosen tile with a random vowel. These can be lifesavers when you’re in a pinch or one of the characters is on their last breath.
Thankfully too the letter tiles are also randomized so if you replay a level it won’t be a carbon copy. It’s like tossing a bunch of Scrabble tiles in a bag and laying them out on the board; a different board every time. The music in the game ranges between intense in some of the levels to almost relaxing and soothing in others. It’s a nice mix.
Highrise Heroes: Word Challenge does everything that it needs to do. It’s quick and easy to pick up and play, levels are short and sweet, and it has a good presentation. If you’re looking for a nice word puzzle in the eShop then look no further, this game is for you.