Sometimes a game has a concept that, even if the overall experience is a bit rough around the edges, is clever enough to suck you in. That’s how I feel about this week’s pick Phrased Out (Free) from GLHF Entertainment. We’ve seen a lot of examples of a developer taking a tried and true gameplay mechanic and then peppering in some light RPG elements to make for something really unique. Crosswords, Sudoku, and of course match-3 have all done this sort of thing before. Phrased Out takes the classic “Hangman” word-guessing mechanic and dresses it up with a compelling progression system to create a really clever and entertaining little game… with a few caveats.
You’ll run through progressively more difficult battles with enemies where your offense is guessing a word or phrase from one of a number of different trivia categories: Video games, comics, movies, science, and many more. You have a limited amount of time to guess the word as well as a limited number of times to guess a letter. Guess correctly within those parameters and you’ll move onto the next battle, and win enough battles and you’ll clear an area and move onto the next. It’s pretty straight forward “Hangman” gameplay.
What makes Phrased Out so cool is all the various upgrades, power-ups, special abilities, achievements, and more that spice up that core gameplay loop. You can increase a number of stats so you have more chances at guessing letters, increase power-ups like the ability to stop the clock in a battle, increase your odds of running into special enemies that give you coins or other items, and tons more. There’s also a progressive achievement system that rewards heaps of coins in addition to what you earn through regular play so you can further upgrade all of these things. The more powerful and upgraded you get, the further and further you make it in the campaign. I hate using the word addictive but, well, once things start rolling in Phrased Out it’s hard to put it down.
As I alluded to there are some rough edges here. One gripe is you can’t really stop in the middle of a run, which makes sense as then you could just cheese the game and go look up the answers during a battle, but also it’s not really convenient for a mobile game not to be able to stop at a moment’s notice. A bigger issue is that I’ve seen quite a few repeat puzzles while playing, which is inevitable but still puts a damper on the experience when you immediately recognize the answer because you’ve already seen it before. Still, Phrased Out overcomes these nitpicks due to how fun its whole gameplay loop is, and there’s nothing preventing it from improving with just some small tweaks in future updates. If the concept sounds good to you it’s free to play with a very friendly pay model and a coin doubler/ad removal type of IAP if you like what you see, so it’s an easy recommendation for something new to check out.