Word Off Makes Spelling Into A Territorial Death Match

Word Off is, well, a face-off... with words. It's an asynchronous Scrabble-scored Boggle fight, played on a strategy game's grid and covered in a Roy Lichtenstein touch.

Many word games have a sense of gravitas about them, something in their art style that holds up a hand at shoulder height and says, "You Must Be At Least This Serious To Play." Not so much with Word Off. The hexagonal-styled grid, tongue-in-cheek interface, and colorful pop art work hard to make the player feel at ease and ready to kick some vocabulary's ass.

One of the features that took me by surprise in Word Off is the way the letters on the board change after every turn, so long-term strategic thinking is limited. Neither player can work out a detailed list of words in advance, which keeps everyone on level footing. On the other hand, you can find a friend encroaching deeply into your territory and suddenly have nothing better than "AOEEEINR" to work with, when if the letters had just stayed put, you would have had "SEVERED" this turn and totally stayed in the lead. *grumble*

I found it really enjoyable, but the few drawbacks are worth noting: this really wants to be a tablet game, and you'll be better off going at it over WiFi. On my iPod Touch, the screen seemed crowded with too many details, which greater screen real estate would alleviate. As well, one friend who I was playing against had some trouble getting Word Off to load reliably over mobile networks, even while his other apps were fine.

And finally, Word Off is a free app on both iOS and Android, but ad placement on a tiny screen, and the full-screen interstitial ad videos, are intrusive and irritating. On the other hand, the upgrade to an ad-free version is only $1.99, which is well worth it if you can convince your friends to play too. While it's entertaining with strangers, it's much more fun against people you know.

Word Off [Free, Google Play]

Word Off [Free, iTunes]