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Game Day: Typeshift

Developer Zach Gage describes Typeshift as ‘Anagrams meets Word Search, with a sprinkle of Crosswords,’ which fits well. Gage is the creator of SpellTower and other excellent iOS games. It’s a clever mashup of the familiar in an unconventional way. With an extensive library of free puzzles, new daily puzzles, and puzzle packs that are available as In-App Purchases, TypeShift is a thoroughly addicting, seemingly bottomless pit of word game fun.

Typeshift works like the tumblers on a cylindrical combination lock. Scrambled words are stacked in rows on top of each other. The goal is to discover words by shifting letters up and down in columns. Spelling a word in the center row changes its color. A puzzle is completed when all the letters have been used to spell words. Typeshift also features special Clue Puzzles that combine an element of crossword puzzles by giving you hints about the words that can be spelled.

The game adds an element of time pressure by reporting how quickly you solve each puzzle after it’s completed. If you get stuck, you have a limited number of hints you can use, though more can be acquired with In-App Purchases. Taking a page out of the New York Times crossword puzzle playbook, Typeshift also has a daily puzzle that gets harder each day as the week progresses, which keeps things fresh.

Of course, one way to find words is by simple trial and error. If you happen upon a word you don’t know, double tap it mid-game or tap on it on the results screen that appears when you complete a puzzle to get its definition.

Typeshift feature lots of free puzzles plus the daily puzzle, which is also free, but if you really get hooked, you can purchase additional packs of 20 - 60 puzzles for $0.99 to $1.99 as In-App Purchases. There are a few added benefits to purchasing add-on puzzle packs. The first pack you buy removes ads and gives you expanded statistic. Adding puzzle packs also makes new themes available.

Maybe I’m just picky, but it seems like good word games are hard to find on the App Store, which makes Typeshift an especially welcome addition to iOS. Typeshift struck an immediate chord with me because it’s perfectly designed for mobile. It makes great use of haptic feedback on the iPhone 7 making it feel like you’re manipulating something physical when you push the columns of letters up and down. Idly swiping up and down as you think about each puzzle’s solution is habit-forming and part of the addictive nature of the game. Typeshift has the potential to be one of those games like Letterpress that word game fans return to over and over.

Typeshift, which was part of Apple’s recent Celebrating Indie Games feature, is available on the App Store.

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