At first, iOS word game QatQi feels like solo Scrabble played in the dark. You begin by placing a letter from your tray of six on a lone pulsing circle, which then illuminates four more either side, above and below. The more letters you place, the more tiles light up, and the more options become available to you, and the game ends when there are no more tiles to replenish your tray.
It’s a straightforward idea at its most basic level, but there’s a good deal more to QatQi. You’ll earn more points for building up larger words with smaller ones (so: TA, TAR, STAR, STARE) while certain tiles act as multipliers, with others hiding coins that offer a 50-point reward when used. The object, therefore, is to explore the board, finding routes that reveal the most tile bonuses to maximise your scoring potential. To which end, there’s an undo feature that can be used until the generous free supply runs out, extra uses being fairly reasonably monetised.
It’s designed to be played daily, puzzles increasing in difficulty as the week progresses. By Thursday, you’re venturing into multiple rooms on more expansive boards, and you’re struck by a sudden revelation. You’re leaving a breadcrumb trail of letters to map a darkened dungeon, your own poor letter placement is the enemy within, and the undo feature your way of retreating and returning forearmed with the knowledge of loot placement and traps: those walls that frustratingly block that killer seven-letter blow you’d been waiting to unleash. Yes, QatQi is a roguelike with words, and by the time it dawns, this ferociously smart game will have you hooked.