Quarrel is best described as a video game mash-up of the board games Risk and Scrabble; both of which I’ve never really enjoyed. However, to the contrary, this game is seriously fun…
The aim of the game is to dominate all regions of the game board by putting your soldiers to battle in a Quarrel. You win Quarrels by making words from a selection of up to eight letters, each with their own points. The more difficult the letter, the higher the points. As you begin a match, the game allocates the order of play, and then also distributes soldiers and spaces evenly among the players. To begin with you simply have two player matches and then as the game progresses you can play against three computer-controlled adversaries. Each character you meet has various strengths and weaknesses such as being slow or having a high IQ.
When it’s your turn you select which battalion of solders you want to use and then choose an enemy’s space to Quarrel with. To begin with its easiest to choose one with less soldiers than you have. You then Quarrel with the opposing team by choosing letters from a selection of eight within the time limit. Which you could unravel to be an anagram if you had eight soldiers. As you generally don’t have eight soldiers at your disposal you have to make do with four or five, but by paying attention to letters with higher points (J = 15 points, S = 1 point) you’re sure to win.
If you choose the same word or a word with the same amount of points the game goes into a tie-break situation, choosing the player who found their word quickest as the winner. Should you win a Quarrel you choose, the space will become yours and your battalion with move forward, leaving one guard behind. Everytime you win you also receive treasure which builds up a meter, wrapped around your Xbox avatar in your colour-coded corner of the HUD. When this meter fills you gain back-ups you get to use at your disposal. Should you be clever enough to win three Quarrels in a row, your battalion will start glistening to show they’re on a winning streak, which again gives you a chance to score additional treasure.
Once you’ve had enough of Quarrelling you can reallocate some of your soldiers around the board making sure any spaces next to enemies are well staffed should they choose to Quarrel with you on their turn. Once you’ve finished you’ll need to end your turn so the next player can have a go. After the turn is over the game automatically dishes out some extra back-ups to each player.
The game has several different modes, Tutorial, Quick Match, Domination; conquer all twelve levels, Showdown; faces you with nine head to head matches and there’s Challenge mode giving you set objectives like winning five quarrels in a row! The game also features Make Match where you set the rules as well as an online multi-player mode.
The presentation is beautiful; the game is extremely smooth, simple and colourful. The levels are varied and based on tropical islands, castles, etc. The characters who act as your soldiers are extremely varied but their differences don’t affect game-play; they include Robots, Aliens, Pirates and even Ninjas!
The music sounds like a Latin game show, which when matched with the graphical presentation of bold, bright, primary colours makes the game feel cheerful, clean and accessible.
One of my favourite features in this game is when two CPUs may be Quarrelling, the human player can still take part for extra points. Whilst the two are selecting their words, you too can also take part and try and get the full anagram from the 8 available letters. This is something several other party games, such as Mario Party or Boom Street could learn from. Another great feature is after you have chosen your words, there’s a ticker across the bottom which explains the word, or the possible anagram so you learn as you play!
Quarrel is a fantastic game I can’t recommend highly enough. For any gamer who is looking for something different to play, Quarrel is addictive, fresh and rewarding. This would also be an ideal game to get non-gamers to play as it doesn’t require a great amount of gaming experience, but a tactical mind and varied vocabulary.
For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes.