With the word Study being a part of SLWG – Study! a Language Word Game (out now, $0.99), you might think you could have fun both playing a game and learning a new language. Retro-styled SLWG offers five: English, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. If you’re a beginner with a limited vocabulary though, be warned you might not be able to form very many words, and thus you might end up happier doing so with your mother tongue instead.

In SLWG, random letters will fall onto the screen one by one. You may shift each letter left or right, or even hasten its descent by tapping on arrow keys. Your objective is to use these letters to form words, which must be a minimum of three characters. Luckily, you can shift letters even after they have landed. Simply tap on adjacent letters to swap their positions. Once you’ve got the letters in place, you’ll have to tap or swipe over them, then confirm your selection by tapping a green tick. If you’ve got the word right, they’ll poof off the screen and give you points. You can think of it as a flexible crossword puzzle, with the addition of power-ups and obstacles.

SLWG offers three game modes: Story, Practice, and Survival, but the basic gameplay is the same. Under Story mode, you can pick up a couple of words in each level by tapping on a note icon. In Level One, you’ll learn several pronouns … which you may or may not get to form while playing, since it depends on what letters drop.

Since I don’t know many languages, I couldn’t properly test any of the foreign languages, except for Chinese. The game plays as expected for English, but for Chinese (Mandarin pinyin), just forget it. SLWG wouldn’t accept perfectly regular words. For instance, I tried fei, which could mean a number of things from fat to fly (flight, not the insect). Of course, the game accepts words it knows about, such as tamen (a combination of two words to form they) and nimen (another combination meaning you all). Due to the game requiring a minimum of three letters, you can’t actually practice all those pronouns or whatever other words are shown in the notes (e.g. in Chinese, I is wo). Which is pretty silly. Note: the game states it’s using simplified Chinese, but since the words it’s using are all pinyin, there really is no difference between simplified and traditional, which refers to how the characters are written (they’re all pronounced the same in Mandarin).

Because of this, I can’t exactly recommend SLWG. I’d expect it to play fine for French and Spanish, but judging from its pitiful Chinese dictionary (a “computer” actually has a poorer vocab than me?!?), I’m dubious how well it works in Japanese. Although, at least Japanese comes with more options: Romaji, Hiragana, and a combo of Hiragana and Katakana. SLWG is fun enough as an ordinary English word game, and I like how easy it is to move the letters about, but there are so many other excellent word games to choose from.

Verdict

SLWG is a decent word game, and the power-ups and obstacles do make it a bit different, but on the whole it isn’t as outstanding as it could be. Although it offers five languages, at least one of them (Chinese) is not playable due to the game’s poor dictionary. Also, I don’t think Chinese is a language that works well in a letter-based word game.

Positives
A word game for multiple languages
Power-ups and obstacles add fun
Swapping letter positions is easy
Negatives
At least one language (Chinese) has a poor to non-existent dictionary
2.5
Okay
Download on the App Store