I’ve never been so frustrated with tiny men lacking in necks, arms, and legs. Oddly enough I also can’t remember the last time I fell quite so in love with them. Such is life in the land of Quarrel Deluxe: at times an exhilarating dose of brain-busting competition, and at others… phone-throwingly frustrating. What is Quarrel, you ask? It’s an unfortunately overlooked game cast into a world in which games just like it have already planted their flags. There is little room to move on the map over which apps such as Words With Friends already rule. However, if Quarrel were to advance on their territories it would do so with the word value of SCRABBLE, and all the war strategy of RISK.
The stylistic elements of Quarrel, while consistently cute and well realized, are easily the most uninventive aspect of the overall package. The lacklustre map and “been there, done that” character design do nothing to serve as a testament to how complex this game can actually be. Unfortunately this means that more mature gamers might shy away before they even give it a try.
If Quarrel truly wanted to set itself apart in this saturated market it may have been more advantageous to implement a style which differentiates itself from the competition. While it certainly borrows from, and improves upon, the gameplay of its competitors, its layout and design simply feel like an unimaginative carbon copy of many games which came before it.
The characters range from bubbly little military men, to bubbly little ninja women, to bubbly little robots, and none of them have necks, arms, or legs. This may not make them seem like the most ideal form of foot soldier, but what they do have is their words, and luckily that’s all they’ll need. How does that saying go?
Aesthetic qualities aside, the gameplay of Quarrel is really what matters. In each match 2-4 players are assigned territories on a map and are tasked with invading the occupied zones of their opponents. The end goal? Total domination. The cutest damn domination you’ve ever seen.
This may sound familiar, but where a game like Risk employs dice rolls to determine the victor of each battle, Quarrel issues an eight letter anagram to each battalion and pits them against one another in order to see who can come up with the word with the highest point value.
In order to increase the intensity and variety of each fight, each army can only use as many letters from the anagram as they have soldiers occupying the territories in conflict. For example: if I use 5 troops on one of my territories to attack and adjacent territory which houses 7 of your troops, using the anagram provided I could make a maximum of a 5 letter word while you could use the same anagram to make a maximum of a 7 letter word. Each letter is assigned a point value, and the player with the highest valued word (in this case it would probably be me) wins the battle (against you).
Further strategic planning involves quartering off your troops, and positioning your takeovers to ensure that every attackable territory you control houses a large number of infantry. While advantage always comes in numbers, a crafty player can easily take down an 8 troop army using 4 high scoring letters.
The one serious and potentially crippling gripe with this game is that there is no multiplayer, local or otherwise. As a result you are forced to play the A.I. which is generally either too simple to piece together anything more than three letters at any given time, or makes that pompous literary friend of yours (everyone has one) look like Lennie from Of Mice and Men. Simply put, the balance of the single player experience could certainly benefit from a little fine tuning. It makes for some incredibly frustrating moments which often sully an overall great experience. In spite of everything, this complaint still should not be enough to dissuade anyone from trying out the game (a free version of Quarrel is also available on the App Store).
The innovative use of wordplay and strategy tactics fit together surprisingly well. In a way Quarrel is like the chocolate and peanut butter of the iOS world… minus the cavities and smeared screens.
|Title:||Quarrel Deluxe||Developer:||Indiagames Limited|
|Reviewed Ver:||1.2||Min OS Req:||4.0|