Scottish Indie developer Denki today announced the launch of Denki Word Quest, which it describes as a blend between its own multi-award winning word-game, Quarrel, and a lite-RPG. The game is available to try for free on the web via Turbulenz's HTML5 portal at http://turbulenz.com/DenkiWordQuest/ with full access only £3/€4/$5.
“The idea of using words as the basis for a role-playing game was something we’d wanted to do for ages”, says Denki Creative Director Gary Penn, “and we took the trophies Quarrel picked up at last month’s TIGA awards as a sign to just get on and do it. We’re all big word-game fans here at Denki, and we enjoy finding new ways of applying them to other genres.”
Denki Word Quest is set in the highly-literate land of Wordor, where the player takes the role of Biblio (or Bib for short), our brave hero whose village has recently been turned to ruins by Pure Evil, the villainous monster that lurks high in a tower on the far side of the land. The village’s treasure has been stolen along with all its words and a surprisingly large number of princesses. Now it’s up to Bib to see off the ferocious kittens, obstreperous spiders and other foul creatures holding them captive and guide them safely back to the village.
Bib wields the mighty “Word Sword” a strange arcane blade with slots for magic runes that look suspiciously like letters from Quarrel. At the start of the quest the Word Sword only accepts a maximum of three letters, but by collecting treasure players can upgrade Bib’s skills to defeat some of the tougher opponents to be found on the approach to Pure Evil’s Tower. Items such as improved armour, increased damage and, most importantly, the ability to add slots for up to six letters are all available to make Bib’s quest easier. There are even spells and potions that enhance the damage letters do with each swipe - particularly effective when it fortuitously lands on those high-value letter such as Z [12 points] or J [15 points].
“We’ve tried to make Denki Word Quest a much less challenging game to play than Quarrel”, explains Gary. “Many Quarrel players we spoke to said that as much as they enjoyed Quarrel it was often too difficult if they weren’t right at the peak of their game. For that reason we limited the anagrams in Denki Word Quest to a maximum of six letters rather than eight, and also ensured no one is expected to make a word with more than three letters for the first few encounters until they get the hang of how it works.”
“As well as that we’ve made sure the adventure itself isn’t too long”, continues Gary. “No individual quest lasts longer than about 5 minutes, and it’s only necessary to complete a couple of dozen quests to get to Pure Evil’s tower, so most people should be able to finish it in a couple of hours or so. However, we’ve made sure each new adventure is randomised so it’s possible to restart the game and enjoy a different experience with every play-through. Overall it’s a fun little adventure that should appeal to anyone that likes word games or RPG’s but doesn’t want anything too involved or challenging.”
But why create a new word game at all? Why not just update Quarrel? After all, a quick browse of the App Store reviews suggest there’s no shortage of people who would love to see some new content added to the existing versions. Why create something entirely new instead of looking after existing Quarrel fans?
“We’re often asked why we haven’t released any updates to Quarrel, and the reason’s simple - it’s not our game any more”, reveals Denki Managing Director Colin Anderson. “We lost all the rights to it back in 2010 when we couldn’t find a publisher and were forced to lay off the majority of our team. Since then we’ve been working on it as architects and builders rather than owners.”
“It turns out the company that bought Quarrel, UTV Ignition, were themselves acquired by Disney earlier this year, and since then all the people Denki had dealings with have either left the business or moved into other areas. “It’s been hugely frustrating for the whole team”, says Colin. “I’m not sure if Disney even know they own Quarrel now, and we haven’t been able to speak with anyone interested enough to give it their attention. It seems to have fallen through the cracks when UTV Ignition was bought over - but not so much that anyone might consider giving us the IP back so we can do more with it of course!”
So with further development of Quarrel off-limits they’ve decided to do the next best thing and set about building Denki Word Quest instead. “The metrics we have from Quarrel show retention rates significantly higher than any industry benchmarks we can find,” adds Denki Producer, Sean Taylor. “There’s clearly a passionate fanbase out there for innovative, high-quality word games and by releasing Denki Word Quest we’re ensuring we’ll be able to release important updates or new versions of the game should there be enough interest from customers.”
Hopefully players will agree with this approach.