It’s time to take a step back from games that are fast paced and full of action and violence and have a look at KrissX. Not many people would take a step away from Call of Duty’s shooting, blood and violence for a game where the main character is called Wordsworth the Owl, but like a transformer, this title is more than meets the eye. Sort of.
KrissX on the Xbox Live Arcade is for the kind of people that regularly do the daily crossword in the local newspaper and casual gamers who don’t get that much of a kick out of shooting each other. There is a grid set out like a crossword. Each word is scrambled up and your job is to unscramble each word until the entire grid is correct by switching letters with each other with the aid of helpful hints that give you a clue to what the word is. What starts off as a pretty simple game quickly becomes a game of thinking very carefully and making the correct moves to earn maximum points in a set time limit. You thought this game was for the elderly? Think again.
The game gets surprisingly fun, even just playing one of the modes. Of course, there are several modes for you to play in KrissX, each offering something slightly different in terms of gameplay. There is Quest Mode, where you work your way through stages solving the words. It’s not just all solving words, there are challenges in some stages where you can earn yourself some big points if you can solve a word within a certain number of swaps, and also where you have to rearrange letters into alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order, which can sometimes prove quite hard, and you have to think carefully before you swap letters.
Other modes include Time Attack where you try to complete as many stages as possible in the limited time you are given. This mode is for the experienced players, so there will be no time to get out your thesaurus and start looking because you’ll never beat your friend’s scores that way. There is also Timeless Mode which is designed for those people who just want to play a relaxing game where there is no time limit making you rush. I played this mode quite a few times and it actually is quite fun, it’s a step away from all of those fast paced games that require all of your concentration. Special Puzzles mode adds some variety into the mix to satisfy those looking for something a little different.
As you progress through KrissX you unlock badges. These signify accomplishments in game in the way achievements do. The better you do whilst playing KrissX, the better badges you unlock. It makes you strive to play the game more and more, which adds significant replay value to earlier challenges. Leaderboards are in the game to add a competitive edge and challenge your friends to get high scores, which can help make the game appeal to a wider audience. Obviously, like all arcade games, there are 12 achievements to unlock, some are easier than others.
The presentation of the game is very calm and relaxing with a lot of kinetic energy buzzing off of words when you solve them, combined with sounds that make you feel it’s all worth while. You might be thinking I am somewhat crazy, but this combination of graphics and sound effects make a lot of difference to the overall feel of the game. However, there could have been more variety in music, as listening to the same track over and over again can get very boring.
One of the downsides to KrissX is that there is no multiplayer, both co-operative and competitive multiplayer do not feature in the game. For competitive they could have added in a turn based version where players take turns to swap letters, as that would turn out to be very strategic. Co-operative would be for couples and friends, possibly even families just to play along together and help each other work things out. This probably would have made the life of the game just a little longer than it is. Plus, Single Player can get quite lonely.
All in all, KrissX is a change from your usual puzzle games, making them more fun and enjoyable than ever before and succeeding in making it very addictive. Whilst playing this game, five minutes will turn into begging your relatives for just one more go.
Reviewer: Ben Gray