A word game, eh? That’s a tough genre to stand out in because it feels like any and all ideas have been fully explored in the world of word games. However, developer Thomas Young, creator of the beloved Dadish games, seems to have pulled it off with his latest title Molecano. I can’t say for certain that this particular spin to this particular type of word game has never been done before, but it’s certainly new to me, and it’s certainly added a whole new strategic layer to something that is otherwise a bit blah to me.
What type of word game I hear you asking? The one that immediately jumps to mind is Spelling Bee in the NYT Games app, but there are countless versions of this style of word-making game, including one whose name escapes me that my wife has been playing daily for more than a decade. I guess if you want to reach even further back it’s a similar setup to the classic Boggle, where you’re given a set of letters and then must create words that are 3 or more letters long out of that set.
The letters in Molecano, as in many of these, are presented in a circle of 6 letters at the bottom of the screen, and you create a word by dragging your thumb from one letter to the next, and you can only use each letter once in a word. Where things get interesting for me here is that you aren’t just finding as many words as you can think of, or looking for words from a particular list. Instead there’s a 10×10 game board with various terrain and foods spread around it. An adorable little mole named Molene stands off to the side of the board, and your goal is to create words that can then be used to build walkways across the map that allow Molene to collect all the pieces of food.
This is MUCH trickier than it sounds and that it seems based off the first handful of levels. You’re able to rotate your word to make both horizontal and vertical walkways, and each subsequent word can interconnect with an already played word similar to Scrabble. Adding to the challenge is a limit to how many words you can make for each level, so you can’t just make a bunch of 3-letter words and connect them all over the place, you have to actually think about what word you want to play but also what words you might want to play 2 or 3 moves ahead and how they will connect up to your current word. As I mentioned this gets very difficult over the course of the game.
Also, any word that’s 5 or more letters will earn you coins which you can save up to purchase new playable characters, including Dadish himself. The new characters only seem to be cosmetic, but it might be cool if each one had some sort of bonus ability or something to give you more of a reason to switch things up. As is it’s just sort of a cute bonus and something to save your coins for. Molecano is free with ads and a one-time IAP to remove them, but in my experience I was only seeing an ad every 10 levels which is so infrequent I doubt it’ll bother too many people anyway.
My main criticism with Molecano is that there’s such a solid foundation here but not too much done with it yet. The game features more than 400 levels, which is A LOT, but you just kind of play through them in sequence and that’s it. Some sort of randomized quick game or something, or leaderboards or weekly challenges, really just anything to kind of spice up this sparse initial offering would be great. That said, it’ll be a good long while before I’m beating all these levels so there’s definitely more than enough to keep me occupied for now. If you like word games then Molecano is a no-brainer to check out for free. It’s hard to capture my attention with any word game nowadays but this one has done just that.