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Deadword – word-based apocalypse

Swap letters to escape zombies

Price: Free
Version: 1.0.1
Size: 147.6 MB
Developer: Derek Seibel
Platform: iPhone / iPad


Here’s a take on a zombie apocalypse you won’t have seen before. Who knew the way to survive was to have a wider vocabulary? In this puzzle-based survival game, you must avoid the undead and work your way through a series of levels, starting from one word and aiming for another. You achieve this by swapping one letter at a time until you match your target.

However, it’s not as easy as all that. On the way to the goal word, there are zombies representing other words! If you end up making one of those words on your journey, you will be bitten.

Move around by replacing letters in 4-letter words

The approach is simple. At the top of the screen, you have a map of the world you’re trying to progress through. On this map is the word you’re trying to get to. There are other words too – some represented by a zombie icon, which you should avoid, and others representative of other survivors, who if you land on, may give you supplies like maps or health packs to heal you.

Some survivors may have useful items

Each word in Deadword is only 4 letters long. On the surface this might seem simple, but as you progress it gets much harder and routes seem constrained as you try to avoid the zombies. Each turn requires you to swap out one letter for another to reach a new word. For example, HARD to HERD to HERE.

The story mode has chapters which narratively guide you through your progress

It’s a pretty simple concept and the ease of the first few levels hovers somewhere between satisfaction and unchallenging. Once it ramps up it can often reach frustrating. But at its heart, this is all about strategy and thinking a couple moves ahead. To mitigate this, zombies will often change their words to try and block your path.

The main story mode has 30 chapters. It’s not super long, but then it is a free game, broken up by adverts (which can be removed for a $2/£2 IAP.) Aside from this, there’s also an endless mode where you simply have to see how long you can survive for.

You will also find items that may impact later chapters

Design-wise the game take a retro arcade approach – plenty of blocky pixels. It looks great, but we do wonder whether this approach is getting a little overdone. However, the soundtrack is neat; sometimes ominous, sometimes fun.

Be careful – if you spell a word that represents a zombie, you’ll be bitten!

As a package, Deadword is a fun little word-based puzzle game that will help you waste some time. It’s not as memorable as it could be, but that’s not to say it isn’t worth a shot.