Letter Quest Remastered is Quite Good, Despite Personal Issues on Vita

Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey was one of the first mobile games to successfully hold my attention, with its neat gameplay hook, cute characters, crisp graphics, and steady stream of rewarding upgrades. I’m a firm believer that just because a game exists on a mobile device doesn’t necessarily make it bad, and I looked forward to checking out Letter Quest’s PS4 and Vita port when it was included in this month’s batch of free Playstation Plus titles.

It’s a neat RPG with a dumb little story about a grim reaper’s quest for pizza, but rather than using any sort of traditional battle system, you deal damage by spelling out words from a randomized batch of letters. Each letter dishes out a specific amount of damage, so it’s a wise strategy to spend your turn focusing on lengthier words, ones that use more powerful letters (like X or K), or, should luck have it, both. Think of it like an RPG version of Scrabble.

The game becomes increasingly challenging as enemies begin manipulating Grimm’s tiles. Some of the more devious monsters cause tiles to become poisonous, inflicting damage if you include them in your words. Others can break tiles, rendering them useless for a few turns, or even change your available letter bank. So not only do you have to dig deep in your vocabulary to slay baddies, but do so while tip-toeing around potential hazards as well.

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Battles play out similarly to any normal turn-based RPG, as Grimm trades blows with monsters, replenishes lost health through potions, and earns a spendable currency from each victory. You can spend that currency by rescuing NPCs, who return the favor by granting access to a variety of different shops. With their help, Grimm can buy and upgrade new weapons, stockpile consumables, beef up his stats, and unlock spell books that provide passive bonuses in combat (like extra damage for using double letters).

Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered offers a neat RPG experience with just enough of a hook to keep me coming back. Honestly, that’s the best case scenario for any mobile or handheld game. I played the mobile version pretty extensively, but since I had already invested a considerable amount of time over there I was less inclined to do so again. However, in the back of my mind I always thought it’d be a great fit on Vita.

While the PS4 version is just fine, scrapping the mobile practice of microtransactions (the mobile version is free, but has a few paid options) and tossing in d-pad support, Letter Quest is a slight downgrade on Vita. Although the rest of the visuals are crisp and clear, the text is pretty fuzzy (which has given me a few headaches). The controller support that’s present on PS4 is also absent on Sony’s handheld, in favor of touch-only controls.

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Here is a screenshot from my Vita.
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And here is the same screenshot taken on my PS4. It clearly has more detail in the environmental textures, but take a look at the text.

Touch controls are manageable in moderation, but I found it difficult to claw-grip the Vita in one hand while fully controlling Letter Quest with the other. It’s a different story on my tablet, since I can just lay it in my lap and poke the screen with my fingertips. It’s not only uncomfortable to support the Vita one-handed, but nearly impossible to become engaged in the experience when my hands are cramped and uncomfortable.

If you recall, this is the same issue I had with Drinkbox’s fantastic dungeon crawler RPG, Severed. It was an incredible game that I just couldn’t play for longer than 20-30 minutes, due to hand cramps and the overall awkwardness of clutching the Vita in one hand while rapidly slashing across the touch screen with the other. It’s a shame, really.

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Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered is still a great game that offers a novel spin on a familiar genre, and I applaud that. In fact, it still remains my favorite mobile game to date. I’m just a bit disappointed by the Vita version’s noticeably downgraded text visuals and uncomfortable control scheme. Especially when Letter Quest on PS4 already includes controller support and doesn’t suffer from the same haziness.

Had this been my first experience with Bacon Bandit Games’ puzzle RPG, I’m almost positive that I’d overlook these flaws and get sucked in to the game on PS4, or even Vita. Having extensively played it beforehand though, my only selling point is unlocking PSN Trophies.

But I guess I’ll just stick to using my tablet, and that’s something I never thought I’d say in my life.

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15 thoughts on “Letter Quest Remastered is Quite Good, Despite Personal Issues on Vita

  1. Great review, but you had me interested by the cute grim reaper picture alone, hehe. Thank you for giving me another reason to show my abandoned Vita some love (when I get home tomorrow of course). This and V x6 look fun! I think I’ll be able to live with the fuzzy text and awkward controls. I also love those sweet PSN trophies.

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    1. I wanted to make sure I emphasized that if this is your first time, it’s a great game. The Vita version is just the least desirable lol. Either way, I’m glad it interests you and that you’ll be giving the Vita some love! All of the game’s characters are super cute.

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    1. PS+ is good for checking out games I’d otherwise pass up, and had it not been for having prior experience with the superior mobile version, I’d probably still be glued to my Vita. It really is a stellar game, personal issues aside. Hope you enjoy it too, and thanks for stopping by!

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  2. The Grim Reaper needs to get pizza by spelling. This is a morbid, book nerd’s fantasy, and I am that morbid book nerd hehe. That stinks the text is less clear on the PS4/Vita version. That would give me a headache, too. Maybe I’ll check out the mobile. I don’t have a lot of room on my phone, but I wonder if I could put it on my Kindle.

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