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Just A Phrase by POWGI review for PS4, PS Vita, Switch


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

I really wish there was more to Just A Phrase. It’s got an interesting idea at its core. It’s a hangman-style game where you guess letters to fill out a phrase, with the twist being that every phrase uses a homophone to mix things up a little bit — so it’ll use “flour” instead of “flower” (for “flour power”), or “threw” instead of “through” (for “threw the looking glass”).

As someone who enjoys wordplay (and who can’t get enough of Lightwood Games’ other offerings), the whole thing definitely holds a certain appeal for me. I’m never going to say no to more word games, after all.

It’s just…there’s literally no challenge here whatsoever. There are 120 puzzles included, and maybe two took me longer than a minute to complete — and one of those was because I was going for the trophy you get for taking a minute between guesses. Even at the allegedly hardest difficulty, I was still having no difficulty finishing levels in under 20 seconds. In one case, I even finished a level in 10 seconds.

And this was with me making an honest effort to solve the puzzles, by thinking about what letters were on screen and what may come next! If you’re so inclined, you could just as easily finish every puzzle here by mashing the same button over and over until you’ve eliminated every possible letter. The challenge in hangman, after all, comes from having only a limited number of guesses. Take that out, as Just a Phrase does, and you’re left with word puzzles that practically solve themselves.

To be fair, there were one or two solutions that at least made me crack a smile — “brave gnu world” being the one that stands out in my memory. But, at the same time, there are just as many puzzles here that seemed to stretch the definition of homophones well beyond their limits (for example, “lore enforcement officer,” or “corn stork”).

In the right circumstances (i.e. significantly more puzzles), or with the right rules (i.e. making it more like hangman) or at the right price (i.e. a lot less than the $8 this is going for), Just a Phrase could conceivably have been worth picking up. But in this state, at this price? You can almost certainly take a pass.

Lightwood Games provided us with a Just A Phrase by POWGI PS4/Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: C+