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Sticky Terms – Satisfyingly physical word game

Developer: Philipp Stollenmayer
Price: Free
Size: 106 MB
Version: 1.0
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Sticky Terms

You never know quite what you’re going to get from a new Philipp Stollenmayer game, but there are a couple of signature elements to look out for.

You’re definitely going to get stylishly minimalistic graphics alongside a healthy dose of mischief. There’s also a fair chance that the developer’s love of language is going to shine through.

Ripping apart word clusters is satisfying

That’s three ticks for Sticky Terms, a new Stollenmayer word game that literally plays with language. To that end, it feels like a spiritual cousin to supertype, which was primarily concerned with the shape and heft of letters as they tumbled around the screen.

Here you’ll find yourself physically ripping apart nonsensical jumbles of letter fragments, then rotating and reordering them into a legible state. Like supertype, though, your vocabulary skills will go almost completely untested. In fact, you’re highly unlikely to know what the resulting words are until you complete the puzzle and receive the full explanation – complete with satisfying drum flourish.

Translation time is always a joy

We’re not dealing with any old words here, but rather those untranslatable phrases peculiar to each of the world’s languages. Under a number of loose themes like Metaphors, Yuck, and Feelings you’ll learn the native words for a Finnish wife-carrying tournament, the Portuguese word for someone who attends a funeral just for the food, and the term Easter Islanders use for borrowing things one at a time until there’s nothing left.

The process of pulling apart these literal word jumbles is gloriously tactile. Each multi-colored segment will stretch and distort in response to your touch, before pulling apart with an audible pop and a slight rumble of your iPhone’s haptic motor. Lovely.

Some of the word jumbles are way out there

You’ll get a tip-off that you’re on the right track, too, as the various elements will naturally adhere when they touch in the correct configuration. As this suggests, there’s more than a hint of trial and error to Sticky Terms. You’ll often have no clue how to proceed beyond a few familiar half-shapes (capital As are a dead giveaway), and will have to resort to tapping to rotate and moving each section around until something sticks.

But that sense of woolly discovery seems very deliberate. This is a game about discovering delightfully esoteric words for the sake of how they look and sound. And because it’s you that’s putting them together, some of them will stick in your brain. There’s even a dictionary screen that fills in the 150 words as you discover them.

You’ll fill in the dictionary as you progress

Sticky Terms is unlikely to become the new obsession for word game fanatics. It’s far too casual for that, and it doesn’t scratch that same portion of the brain as, say, SpellTower+.

It’s the digital equivalent of a coffee table book – accessible, artfully constructed, easy on the eye and perfectly designed for skimming. But we guarantee you’ll have a whale of a time flicking through its quirky lexicon of unique words and phrases.