Words with Friends made Scrabble sexy again. Now Loren Brichter, the iOS developer who designed the pull-to-refresh and swipe-for-menu mechanisms, is getting into addicting word games. A year after leaving his job at Twitter to work on the next innovation in app design he has now released Letterpress, a game that combines elements of Words with Friends, and SpellTower.
“I was also hooked on Words With Friends back when it came out, but then I got tired of it,” Brichter told The Verge. “I tried similar games but conceptually they were derivative, and at some point all my friends were better than me so it got tedious.”
In it’s current state, Letterpress is neither tedious nor completely derivative. Each player is presented with a five by five grid of letters which they use to build words. Any time a player uses a tile, it changes to blue on their screen, any time their opponent uses a tile, it turns red. The players can steal tiles from their opponents unless they are blocked in by adjacent red tiles. Once all the tiles have been used, the person with the most wins. Games go quickly (depending on how responsive your opponent is) and are relatively addictive.
The design of the game is clean and minimalist featuring square geometry and a simple color palette. Letterpress is free to play but has the option of a 99 cent in-app upgrade that includes new themes, the ability to see past words, and allows the player to have multiple games at once.
Letterpress’s power lies in its simplicity and balance. The rules make sense and are fair, but the tide of the game can change quickly. It’s not uncommon to be ahead in the beginning of the game and still lose—there’s a fair chance that if you strategize enough and pick the best words, anyone can win.