In recent years, gaming through social networking sites and the handheld devices market has garnered much attention because these avenues have extended gaming outside the confines of the niche market that most associate with the genre. Denki’s word game "Quarrel" fits under the handheld devices umbrella by first being made available for the iOS. However, months have passed since it was released on that platform and after having overcome extensive publishing difficulties, this little title, that will undoubtedly remind you of Scrabble, made its way onto Xbox Live last week.
Simple, Yet Satisfying - If you hold a passion not only for strategy but for unscrambling words as well, then Quarrel is definitely the game for you. The premise while tricky at first is actually quite simple. You face off either against an AI opponent or another player through the multiplayer mode and take over enemy territories by creating the best word combination available. To start, each territory is designated a specific number of units. The number of units is the word cap made available to you meaning you will have eight letters from which to choose but may only form a word that corresponds to the number of units. If you create a word with a higher score, then you will take over the territory if you are on the offensive. If you oust your opponent while playing defense, their territory will be temporarily reduced to a single unit. This combination of two different elements works in targeting multiple different audiences which makes it that much more accessible on a fundamental level.
How Do You Spell "Challenging?" - Quarrel succeeds because it challenging. This is particularly important for a game that may not necessarily hold the most replay value. At first, you will be deceived by the lack of difficulty. However, as you progress through certain modes such as Showdown where you attempt to defeat several different AI opponents, you will find their ability to oust your word combinations frustrating. The frustration pushes you forward, however. The computer player may have defeated you during the past match, but with so many different combinations available, you will find yourself constantly attempting to conjure a greater word in hopes of finally defeating your pesky opponent. By providing a challenge, not only is replay value heightened, but a sense of actual accomplishment and greater knowledge is attained. These feelings are not garnered by just any game.
Them's Fighting Words - Despite the good things I have just said, you may find yourself becoming sick of the single player mode. In Quarrel’s XBOX LIVE iteration, this is hardly a problem as there is the inclusion of a multiplayer mode where you are able to face off against other players on in either ranked or unranked matches. When playing against an actual person, there is an added layer of satisfaction included as human opponents usually best the AI. Furthermore, this mode can feature up to three other players, and with four people playing at once, the mayhem and madness only escalate.
Looking Kind of Meh - Normally, with a word game, I would not necessarily hold below average graphics against it. In the case of this title, the graphics hit snags from time to time with, strangely enough, some slowdown issues as well as grainy textures. The colors themselves while vibrant, lack significant variations and you will soon become accustomed to seeing red and blue even in your sleep.
Keep It Muted - One aspect that will go unnoticed is the sound. The music does not make any attempt to distinguish itself and some of the sound effects used such as those heard by the units can become grating on your nerves after a while, especially if extended playtime is involved. While playing the game, I found myself opting for my own music selection, which I try to never resort to if it can be helped.
Quarrel tests your brain on two levels. Not only do you have to attempt the best word combination available, you also have to plan your method of attack as any misstep in strategy can easily cost you the match. This difficulty and simple premise makes the game very accessible on the Xbox Live platform. The inclusion of multiplayer only helps the game’s cause. While there are a couple of hiccups with the graphics and sound, the rest of the package more than compensates for these deficiencies, and this title is definitely worth your money.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*