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Word Villas

App review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Word Villas App Poster Image
Fun puzzler limited by simple words, lots of ads.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about vocabulary use and working toward goals. The game involves some time management and strategy use. Earning and spending coins can help kids practice money management and decision-making skills. Although they'll need to possess some spelling know-how to enter words correctly and probably won't learn much from the design portion of the game (you don't see any of the steps involved in completing household projects), the digital dictionary the app offers can be a helpful resource; if kids want to learn about a word's additional meanings, they just need to click on a tab beneath the game board.

Ease of Play

In addition to general instructions gamers receive when they start playing, they can access a brief FAQ when working on word puzzles, and a to-do list on the main screen tells them what to tackle next.

 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Players can purchase packages of coins and other items, ranging from $4.99 to $49.99, to get hints and help move the gameplay along faster. They can also pay $1.99 to remove the ads that are played between rounds.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character mentions getting a friend a glass of wine, but doesn't; the word wine can also appear in word puzzles.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Word Villas is a puzzle game for iOS and Android devices. In the game, players complete word puzzles to build and restore a house with successful spelling of terms. Players can buy additional items to speed their gameplay up ranging from $4.99-$49.99, but they generally can earn enough coins from playing to get a hint or two a round -- and can earn enough stars to complete tasks they're given. Players should be able to complete many of the word puzzles without getting frustrated. While they're asked to fill in a greater number of words in higher levels, the terms generally aren't very lengthy or complicated. But players see ads after pretty much every round once they advance, and some are fairly long unless they pay a small fee. There's also a mention of wine, but it's never seen. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content in the game.

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What's it about?

After leaving her cheating boyfriend, Rachel moves and begins renovating her vacant childhood home in WORD VILLAS. Items on her to-do list -- such as getting a new rug or answering the door -- require stars to complete, which players earn by guessing words in a crossword-type puzzle based on several letters they're given. Entering additional words that aren't listed in the puzzle and guessing consecutively correct answers earns additional coins, which can be used to buy word clues. Some rounds also feature words that are worth extra coins.

Is it any good?

While this app can be somewhat interesting with its attempt at including a story around its puzzles, the frequent ads and repetitive terms keep it from standing out. Word Villas is a unique take on crosswords. In a traditional crossword, players would use brief descriptions to determine which words fit in various spaces. But in this app, players enter words they've formed from several letters that are provided. The main objective in completing puzzles is to earn stars, which they need to complete the main character's home remodeling-related and other tasks. She may, for example, realize she needs a new couch, and checking that off her to-do list costs a star. If players haven't banked a bunch by playing consecutive word puzzle rounds, they'll need to earn some before the storyline can advance.

Although the puzzles get somewhat more challenging as you reach higher levels, if players get stuck, they can buy a letter clue, provided they have enough coins, or shuffle the order the letters are shown in for free, which may help inspire additional guesses. Generally, though, the words aren't overly complex. The choices used in some rounds could actually be a bit more creative -- seeing meat and meaty in one puzzle doesn't feel all that challenging, and words sometimes are repeated in later rounds. The character's tasks tend to be doled out one at a time, and since the puzzle rounds typically don't take too long to finish, things move at a decent pace -- until players start seeing ads after rounds a few levels in. The increased ad frequency really puts a damper on the fun at a point when you should be getting into the groove of playing. Users can pay $1.99 to remove them, although some parents may prefer kids use the app without incurring the expense. By contrast, kids may eventually get tired of having to wait to collect their earnings from each round to move on to the next step.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about working toward goals. In Word Villas, players try to complete puzzles to advance, so can you think of a goal -- and a plan on how to achieve it?

  • Can you think of a time when investigating and using logic helped solve a problem? Did this turn out better for you than acting on instinct?

App details

For kids who love puzzles

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