Whatever else you do this summer/ autumn, don’t download Alphabear by Spry Fox. You’ve probably seen it whiz past on twitter, if you have twitter, in the shape of bears saying weird things about shares, diners and wonders.
Let me point this out to you, though. Alphabear is poison. It’s addictive, and it features cute bears. Start playing it and you will get little or nothing else done. I almost missed work because of Alphabear, but luckily the battery on my iPad ran out.
The thing is – this is just a word puzzle. But then again it’s not. You win bears as you play. Cute bears. Mummy bears, doggy bears, easy bears, pirate bears and zombie bears and probably a lot more bears than those. The bears also level up. And when they do, or when you win them, they say absolutely, wonderfully ridiculous things. I love them dearly for that. So in addition to an addictive word puzzle with an up to date vocabulary, you also get a bear selfie at the end of every round. Each bear also brings some perk to the gameplay, meaning that the word puzzle will be easier, or that the bear in question will increase the total amount of points you get at the end of the game.
Alphabear is a free-to-play game, and as such it does come with some added frustration, such as having to wait for honey to refill and pay coins to wake up the frankly quite sleepy rare and legendary bears.
It will also cost you coins to enter events where you can win legendary bears. The honey is fine. I paid 49:- to get infinite honey and the game is certainly worth the money, but the coins are not only expensive, they don’t last very long in-game. I get that this is a business model, and that they need to make money off their game, but still. In some games, when the gameplay is good, I pay the micro payments gladly. In others, I get the feeling I’m being milked for money. Maybe it is the lack of options? There are four. Watch videos and get 40 coins or pay for coins in three tiers. Or maybe I’ve read too many books, and know why the middle option is the one everyone will go for, I don’t know.
I do however know that the payment model doesn’t make me go yay! I also have an issue with the very steep difficulty curve. Day 1 of the game is really simple. Day 2 and I’m struggling. I suspect that this is due to the nature of the game-day based challenges, but still.
Despite these shortcomings, the game is absolutely adorable, and horribly addictive. Hours go by in a wink. I’m almost grateful to the designers for all the cooldowns. Alphabear is brain candy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Three bears out of five possible. Rawr.