Not only have I never played a smartphone version of Quarrel I was also blissfully unaware it even existed.
I know, that’s a poor show on my behalf, and having now had the opportunity to sample the delights this game has to offer I can blame no-one but myself that up until this console release a genuinely superb little title was completely off my radar.
So on the back of that, this review will contain zero comparison’s with earlier versions. Everything will be judged purely on the Xbox experience.
And that my friends, is one of the most absorbing, moreish experiences yet to grace the Arcade. When you consider this is for the price of 400 MS points, well, it’s an absolute steal.
The game plays like Risk and Scrabble got together had some fun and spawned Quarrel.
The Risk aspect comes via the game’s objective being to invade adjoining land spaces and conquer them until you have every space under your reign. The scrabble aspect kicks in during the battle for the land in which an almighty war of words takes place.
The game can be played by 2 to 4 players (in single player the enemies are AI controlled.)
The land is divided and each player is designated areas which they control at the game’s beginning . Each area has a different number of troops (this becomes relevant in a mo.) Player 1 then has a choice as play commences, to shift troops about between their own area (thus strengthening other spaces,) to reinforce (this happens at the end of each round for the player in control but when the going gets tough instant reinforcement and passing play is the only option,) or to launch an attack on an enemy space.
Once the attack is on it’s time to get your brain in gear and dust off the dictionary.
The attacking player attempts to take the enemy land, the defending player to keep them at bay, this is done via the scrabble like word game.
It works like this: Each player has the same eight scrambled letters before them, the number of your own troops on the space dictates the size of word you can make (4 soldiers = 4 letter word,) each letter has a different number score value and, to cut to the chase, the highest score wins.
If the attacker wins they take the space, the defender wins they keep the space. The losing side’s troops are depleted and play continues with the attacking player deciding their next move. At the round’s end the controlling player gets reinforcements and play moves to the next player.
Um….yeah, that makes sense, I think.
The game plays like a dream.
It has the power to keep a player’s attention and interest for hour upon blissful hour, it holds a hearty challenge when facing the AI opponents and is a joy to play online.
If a game of 3+ players is under way and you’re not in the action there’s still a nice little anagram challenge to keep you busy while the other combatants go at it.
When it’s time to go toe to toe and those first assembly of mangled letters are before you a countdown begins, this simple little clock not only adds untold tension to proceedings it also keeps the game moving along at a nice pace.
Alongside the single and multiplayer play there are also a number of challenge modes available to add a smidgeon of variety to standard play.
The online play I experienced was smooth as silk, lag free and nicely paced. Unfortunately the only downside I found was the lack of online challengers up for some word jousting, hopefully this will improve and games were available, they were just few and far between at the time of writing.
In closing it only needs to be said that Quarrel is a fantastic addition to an already impressive LIVE Arcade. Anyone with a taste for word puzzles and games is going to love it, and even if you’ve never dipped a toe into the wordy waters before, at a mere 400 MS points there’s never been a better time to get wet. Dive in folks!