By Dan Moren
March 21, 2017 7:55 AM PT
Go Play: Typeshift
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
I love word games. Delight in them. I may even go so far as to say I adore them. But I confess that I’ve never been the best at anagrams–it just seems to require a totally different part of my brain from, say, crossword puzzles. But TypeShift from Zach Gage has got me hooked nonetheless, thanks to a few very clever conceits. Gage is an experienced game developer, whose previous titles include popular games like SpellTower, Ridiculous Fishing, and Really Bad Chess.
TypeShift is, at heart, an anagram game. Each puzzle gives you columns of letters that you can slide up and down–think of it like one of those horizontal combination locks, but with letters instead of numbers. Your goal is to form words from those letters. The good news is that it doesn’t really require rearranging letters, as in a true anagram.
Within each puzzle, your aim is to use all the letters in the puzzle in at least one word. There are generally a handful of core words that you can use to complete this puzzle, as well as a bunch of extra words that you can discover.1 (Even better, when you’ve solved the puzzle, you can tap on any word to get a definition of the word, right from Merriam-Webster, whose dictionary Typeshift licenses. You can then favorite those words just in case you want to look them up later.)
I really appreciate TypeShift’s Daily Puzzle, which–as with the New York Times crossword puzzle–gets harder as the week goes on, but my heart truly belongs to the game’s Clue Puzzles, which combine TypeShift’s normal play with crossword puzzle mechanics. You’re given a list of clues and must find words among the letters that correspond to those clues. It’s definitely a more Dan-friendly sort of puzzle.
TypeShift’s simple, bold graphics focus on easy readability–you can pick from a few different color schemes–and it makes delightful use of haptics on the iPhone 7 series, giving you little rewarding taps when you find a word, or “clicking” as you spin through the letter options. One thing I found myself wishing as I played was that I could go back and finish Daily Puzzles I’d missed, but if that’s possible, I haven’t found out how yet.
The game is itself free and includes a few packs of puzzles as well as the daily puzzle, but you can buy additional puzzle packs for a dollar or two. If you enjoy words and puzzles, it’s well worth your time.
- I seem to usually end up finding a ton of extra words rather than the core words, so I’m definitely no speed demon. ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at email@example.com. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]
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