Word games seem to be everywhere in the App Store. With so many of them in the market, developers have to try and distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack with new concepts or ideas. Pyrus certainly fits this bill as a word game with a unique twist. Here you are presented with a board of 5 scrambled letters where the player must form a word as quickly as possible before the timer runs out. Rather than the typical tapping or sliding around letters to build a word, Pyrus requires you to use up to five fingers in order to assemble your word. Touch and hold down your finger on each letter in the correct order and the letters you type will appear on the top of the screen. When you have spelt out the word, release your fingers from the board to have it submitted.
Every game starts you off with 15 seconds on the clock and time is added for every correct word that is submitted. A three letter word will net 3 extra seconds, a four letter word will add 5 seconds and finally a five letter word will give you 7 extra seconds. Entering consecutive five letter words will make the combo flag appear at the bottom. The number on the flag indicates how many successive five letter words you have entered. So if it is your fifth in a row, you will gain 12 extra seconds on the clock (7 + 5). Basically, forming words in Pyrus will not directly add to the score but rather to the timer. The score itself increases at a steady rate so long as you have time remaining on the clock.
While I do commend Pyrus for introducing a unique concept to the word game genre, I find that the subpar controls and lack of options really hurt its overall gameplay and fun factor. Typing out letters in the correct order with five fingers requires them to be positioned as if you were playing a piano (the thumb used for the far left letter, the pinky for the far right and so forth). Even after 2 hours of play, I found myself wasting valuable seconds simply from using the wrong finger to touch a letter. This is especially maddening when a streak of 5 letter word combos is broken due to the accidental typing of the letters in the incorrect order as fingers are wrongly positioned.
With regards to options, there really are none to speak of. You can only play the game one way. That is, build words with your fingers in the correct order (no tapping out letters individually for those who don’t like the concept), add seconds to timer and try to stay alive. You can’t even shuffle the letters around to help out if you get stuck. More than once, I lost the game even with more than a minute on the clock since I couldn’t figure out the word. In this case, the letters only made up ONE word. So in essence, if you didn’t know this word, then you are out of luck. The words used in Pyrus do not seem to be very consistent. Here are some I have come across while playing: Gotta, Jiffs, Oohed, Schmo, Dacha. Dacha? Is that even an English word?! I looked it up and found out it means a Russian country house or villa.
Pyrus is not a horrible game by any means. I am sure there will be those who enjoy using all five digits to spell out a word or the constant thrill of trying to beat the clock. I too can enjoy the challenges of Pyrus, but only in small little doses. Any longer and I am reminded of the awkward control scheme, lack of options and its frustratingly strange words. As much as I wanted to like this game, I can only recommend Pyrus to those who are hardcore word-aholics.