Scrabble review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

Conservatively, I’d say that I’ve played a few thousand games of Scrabble in my life. I got hooked on it at a very young age (playing against parents and grandparents who never let me win), and it’s been a constant in my life ever since. Board game version, video game, online, it hasn’t mattered; I’ve just always loved playing it, to the point that it’s probably affected how my brain works. To this day, I can’t look at a license plate without instinctively trying to form words using the available letters.

In other words, I love Scrabble, which means that I greeted the game’s arrival on PS4 and Xbox One with no small amount of excitement…but also a little bit of trepidation. I still remember the complete and utter disaster that was the current-gen version of Monopoly, which means I went into this new version of Scrabble a little worried that it, too had somehow been ruined. It was a vague, shapeless fear, of course (because how can you ruin Scrabble?), but it was still a fear nonetheless — after all, you wouldn’t think Monopoly could be ruined either, but that dreadful Xbox One version showed anything was possible.

scrabble 2

Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Scrabble has arrived on the PS4 pretty much exactly as you remember it. There are no crazy bells and whistles, no stupid gimmicks: it’s just you, your opponent, 100 tiles, and a 15×15 board. If you’ve ever played the original version, you’ll have no trouble whatsoever getting used to the PS4 one.

I mean, you can customize things a little, if you so desire. You can play with up to four players, for example, and you can also set time limits for turns and the game as a whole. You can also play against AI that ranges in difficulty from insanely easy (which is actually challenging, since all the Very Easy AI does is put down words that are 2-3 letters in length) to insanely hard (a level of difficulty that’s not for the faint of heart).

scrabble 1

That last point is actually crucially important, since if the game has a flaw, it’s that online is completely dead. I tried finding someone to play with multiple times, and I never came across a single other person. Seeing as Scrabble is meant to be a social game — or, at least, a game in which you get to lord your superior vocabulary over other real, live people — not being able to play against anyone else kind of put a damper on my enthusiasm for the game.

It didn’t kill it, though. Not by a longshot. After all, even Scrabble against AI is still Scrabble. It may not be flashy or sexy, but on PS4 — as on everywhere else it’s ever appeared — it’s still outstanding.

Grade: B