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Tic-Tac-Letters by POWGI review for PS Vita, PS4, Switch


Platform: PS Vita
Also on: PS4, Switch
Publisher: Lightwood Games
Developer: Lightwood Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

Most of what you need to know about Tic-Tac-Letters, you can gather just from its name: it’s tic-tac-toe, but with letters other than X and O. Within the broader context of Lightwood Games’ releases, it’s roughly adjacent to Word Sudoku, in that its name may make you think it’s a word game, but within moments of starting to play it, you’ll realize it’s actually a puzzle game.

There’s a key difference between Tic-Tac-Letters and Word Sudoku, though. Whereas the latter followed the rules of sudoku (with nine-letter words replacing the numbers 1 through 9), Tic-Tac-Letters is more tic-tac-toe-adjacent than a straight-up extension of the game. It’s single-player, for starters, so there’s no strategizing against other players. For another, the board is much bigger than your standard 3×3 grid — the smallest grid here starts at 6×6, and it only gets bigger the harder the puzzles get.

The biggest difference, though, is that the object of Tic-Tac-Letters is to lay out pairs of letters so that you never have a row or column where you have more than two of the same letter next to each other horizontally or vertically. Unlike tic-tac-toe, the diagonal doesn’t matter here.

While it all makes for a solid time-waster, I’d be lying if I said that I found it as fun or as engaging as I have most other Lightwood releases. While there’s a bit of a challenge early on in the smaller puzzles, by the time you’ve worked your way up to the harder ones, you’ve seen all there is to see in the game. What’s more, in the larger puzzles it’s really more a matter of trial and error than actual puzzle-solving, and you’ll quickly find that you’ll be using the “Check” button to see if you’re on the right track much more often than you’ll be figuring anything out.

I’m not saying it’s not worth a buy, mind you. As someone who’s become thoroughly addicted to every game Lightwood have put out in the last couple of years, I’m going to faithfully plow through Tic-Tac-Letters, just like I did for the likes of Wordsweeper and One Word. But I will say that unless you share in my unhealthy obsession, you’re probably safe to skip this one.

Lightwood Games provided us with a Tic-Tac-Letters by POWGI PS4/Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B-