The word game genre is full of both single player and multiplayer options, from classics like PopCap's Bookworm to more modern takes on Scrabble like Words with Friends, but that hasn't stopped developers from releasing new games in the space in their attempt to be the next big thing. PlayScreen's Word Carnivale (or Word Carnival, as it's known in iTunes) is one such new word game that tries so hard to be something great, but suffers from some odd design choices and technical issues in its early state.
Word Carnivale can be most easily compared to Zynga's Scramble with Friends, which was in itself heavily inspired by the table top game Boggle. World Carnivale sees players challenging both friends and strangers alike to three round matches with the ultimate goal being to win at least two out of the three rounds by earning the most points. In each round, letters are placed on balloons that can be popped by tapping and dragging to form a word at least three letters in length, and more balloons float up from the bottom of the screen to fill in the holes that are created with each word.
Each round is timed, but extra time can be earned by creating words (the longer the word, the more bonus time is added to the clock). This creates an odd gameplay experience, as the combination of disappearing letters and the in-game timer almost entirely eliminates the ability to create massive words, since the clock will be forever ticking down and you simply don't have time to find many massive words before each round ends. Therefore, most players will spend a lot of time creating the most basic of three letter words just to earn one or two seconds of bonus time on the clock, but this causes problems in and of itself, as vowels are too quickly exhausted and the game board becomes full of less popular letters like W, H, or G.
The game board can be rotated manually to hopefully reveal more words while playing, and bombs can be used to clear the entire board and start over if you really can't find any words to play. The more experienced a player is at such games, the longer their turns will ultimately last, and vice versa, which doesn't present the fairest of setups to someone that might be new at the entire word game scene.
While Word Carnivale is free to download and play, it's not a "freemium" title, and is instead free simply because of the ads that play after each round. We had some issues with these ads, as the game would sometimes freeze and never load the ad, therefore never allowing us to continue playing without force-closing the app and reloading it. What's more, it's pretty hard to find random opponents to challenge, either due to some sort of technical issue with match-matching or due to the fact that many people simply haven't given the game a chance.
Overall, Word Carnivale has a fine premise, but it suffers from odd pacing. The experience is setup to be a fast-paced, keep-you-on-your-toes word game, but the balloons move slowly and it's sometimes possible for a round to continue far too long with the repetitive creation of basic three letter words. With time, it's definitely possible for Word Carnivale to become a more entertaining experience, but you might want to hold off on downloading this one until it's been further polished.
Click here to download Word Carnivale Free on iTunes >
Have you tried Word Carnivale on iTunes? What do you think of this carnival-themed multiplayer word game? Sound off in the comments!