Lex ($1) is a new word game from Simple Machine. Players are tasked with building words as fast as they can. Though there’s no board, the game should feel familiar to Scrabble players.
Players in Lex make words from a “rack” of nine letters. When letters are used in a word, they disappear, and new letters arrive. However, to up the drama, the letter tiles start to turn red as they hang around — the tiles “fill up” from the bottom. Once a letter tile turns completely red, the game ends. Letters with the lowest point values fill up quickest, and it appears that Lex dutifully follows the traditional Scrabble point values. For instance, vowels are worth one point, Q and Z are worth 10, and so forth.
The pace of the game speeds up very quickly. While you may find yourself aiming for longer, more point-laden words at the start of the game, you’ll soon have no choice to spell out any word you can think of, just to survive. The gameplay is basic, but works perfectly. It’s furious and fun; Lex definitely has that “one more game” appeal.
Like some other games, Lex recommends users play with headphones, to better immerse themselves in the sound of the game. But let’s be honest — this is a word game, so that’s not necessary. The game’s description also touts the unique imagery and player generated soundtrack. They’re nice touches, but hard to really concentrate on when you’re frantically thinking of a word that includes the letter U.
Which brings us to the biggest issue with this game. No matter what you think of the Scrabble scoring system — which is solid at worst, but could probably use a few tweaks — it definitely doesn’t translate perfectly to a game that moves this fast and doesn’t allow two-letter words. We found ourselves time and time again failing due to the letter U. It’s just harder to use than the other vowels, which is only exacerbated by the time factor. We also think the letters fill up just a bit too fast, too early. The game would be more satisfying and addictive if each round could be measured in minutes, rather than seconds.
Lex is lots of fun, and pretty addictive as it is. It’s easy to pick up and play, and the presentation is polished. Considering its low price, we would definitely recommend it to any fans of word games. But with a few tweaks, it could have been truly special.
iLounge Rating: B+