An XboxHornet Review By Liam Jugler.
Not often is it I find a game I can not play, but love all the same. Lexiv manages that. Please excuse my own crippling ineptitude as I try to explain what is so great about this game.
Lexiv is 3 games in one. It’s Scrabble, first and foremost, even the quickest glance at the screenshots peppering this page will tell you that. Lexiv is also Sim City and Tower Defense, and rather than simply being a gimmick it actually pulls off being all 3 at once with a startling display of elegance. And this is from a guy who is quite possibly the worst scrabbler ever.
To start, I want to talk about the overall quality of the package. This game looks and sounds incredibly professional, almost Arcade level quality here. The art design is coherent and very very stylish the whole way through and the sound design is delightful. Before I even started I was impressed at the degree of workmanship gone into the aesthetics of the game. I know there is a common school of thought that says a game’s quality shouldn’t be decided on its graphics but I feel in many cases if no work has gone into making something look good (which goes far beyond slapping the newest Unreal engine effects on everything and calling it a day) it probably didn’t have too much effort behind the scenes either.
The game itself is also a gem. One its surface it is just scrabble, and frankly it doesn’t get much deeper than scrabble, but in Lexiv, you’re not really building words for your score, you’re more building types of buildings, whose quality and benefits increase as you place bigger words with higher level letters. Verbs are production buildings, increasing the rate new letters enter your dock while nouns are homes for your cities citizens to live. Adverbs and Adjectives increase the effectiveness of the above and so on. In addition to letters, you also have service blocks to place which levels up your ‘words’.
Usually I try to avoid simple “Here is what the game is” descriptions in favor of actually deconstructing the material, but all I can really do for Lexiv is say that the combination of the 3 different game styles mash up surprisingly well. The weakest side I would say is the tower defense. It feels tacked on, the enemies that come at you are too weak and too few and you only have one turret you can build. I suspect it may have been a late addition to deal with one of the large problems with the game, the inactivity.
Speaking of problems, there are a few. First of all, the lack of things to do, mentioned above. Not every game has to be blisteringly fast, I know, but your average scrabble game is spurred on by having an opponent, and even then the game is slow. In Lexiv you have no enemy besides the time limit on some bonus stages. Perhaps someone more talented at the art of tile placement would have a more exciting time of it, but I really feel the Lexiv team missed out on an opportunity for multiplayer here.
Leveling is too slow. Again, perhaps this is my own lack of ability but it took me a while to level up. Given how most of your special powers in the game come from leveling up, you can see how this could be an issue.
Lastly, there were some bugs in the game, nothing major but several times I exited the game and was presented with a blank screen. Not a massive deal, but I felt it worth mentioning.
If you enjoy the kind of word games this is built around, it’s hard to think of any reason you’d dislike Lexiv. For the less wordy inclined people out there however, this is a bit of a miss. As I said above, I’m not good at these kinds of word games. It took me forever to even finish the first stage and future levels look to increase in complexity the whole time. Having said that, I did enjoy myself in spite of my limitations and the gang behind Lexiv should be commended for making a fairly unique, interesting and compelling game. This is the kind of experimentation and ideals we need more of on the Indie Games channel.
Game Score: 8.5/10.
(P.S. Check out the credits. I gave it the .5 just for that.)
Download a free demo of the game here.