If you’ve ever played RISK or know what the game is about, then you’ll understand how Quarrel works. Word games are everywhere and it’s pretty difficult to create a new one that will stand out, Quarrel is one of those that is actually a breath of fresh air and makes playing a word game more enjoyable.
Nice and colourful, but easy on the eye graphics help to ease the player into the game and even spark a little excitement, something I admittedly haven’t experienced with an Xbox Live Arcade game before. Not sure why, unless it stirred the word-geek inside me, I didn’t care what the game looked like as long as it had a plethora or words that were proper words and not some strange slang made up from local dialect or ‘movie-talk’.
That was when it happened, I was confronted with “PRIG”. I have a habit of calling the wife out on words she spurts out which sound made up, yet exist in the dictionary, and prig was one of those words. The frustration over losing against a word like that, you just can’t believe the word exists and after checking a dictionary, you still feel cheated, but then become wary and attempt to raise the bar by then trying to think of as many small and weird words as possible.
The game has a match-making system that provides opponents based on your word IQ, so as you typically start out with zero, you have to play a few games for it to work out how good you are and then pit you against stronger competition and with better wordsmiths to contend with, the more intricate the words become.
Don’t be surprised to see words you never knew even existed and to some extent, require you to have a dictionary/internet nearby to look up what drivel that the AI comes up with. If you thought you were great with words, think again as you’re getting schooled by the system that’s taking over all your sectors and imprisoning your little guys.
As mentioned, the game takes a leaf out of the game RISK by giving you some ‘land’ and a number of soldiers to occupy it, that number is how many letters you can use to make words with. For example, if you’re playing a two-player match, the sections are split and your characters are placed on half of them with each section holding four, five or six soldiers.
You’re given eight letters which are also an anagram of a word, guessing that word give you bonus points and treasure, but if the opponent also guesses the word, then the one who got it fastest, wins. It’s a bit of a cop-out as you only have around ten seconds to guess the anagram or if you don’t have eight guys, get the best word you can.
Such time limits don’t occur when playing against humans, if there are up to four friends playing, it doesn’t matter how long you take (well, it kind of does if you have the same word or one that scores the same amount of points) since the game is so fun, time becomes irrelevant.
The match-making also extends to online where you can play against people of a similar word IQ and see if you can improve your rank in the leaderboards, if you don’t feel like taking on strangers, there’s always the Xbox Live Party option.
It’s a game you’ll go back to for sure, especially if you like learning while you play. Some words that the AI uses are there not just to outdo you, but also educate and broaden your vocabulary. If you get bored with just playing standard matches, try going through the twelve challenges or if you’re in a take-over kind of mood, then Domination will satisfy that need.
Quarrel is definitely one of the better Xbox Live Arcade titles and an absolute bargain at just 400 Microsoft Points. Definitely try the trial version to get a taste, you won’t be ‘boggled’ by anything confusing, it’s already critically acclaimed on iOS devices, so why not see what’s been getting people so excited and get something that will keep you busy for hours?!
Check it out on the Xbox Live Marketplace and look around for more reviews, you’ll find that it’s often recommended, you can’t really go wrong with a great game at a nice price, well worthy of MG Gold!