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Alphabear is one of our favorite word games of the past few years; a charming letter puzzler that rewards smart word building and clever planning ahead. Developers Spry Fox have since released the adorable swipe brawler Bushido Bear and the slightly baffling adventure Road Not Taken, but are now returning to their hugely popular puzzle series.

A sequel, Alphabear 2, has just dropped on the App Store and we’re excited to check it out. It doesn’t look to have veered too far from the winning formula of the first game, with a suite of minor improvements rather than wholesale changes.

If you’ve not played it, here’s Craig Grannell’s take on the original, lifted from our best word games roundup:

“Alphabear begins with a grid of letters in a field, usually with a few small bears lurking and making odd not-entirely-bear-like noises. Tap out a word and the letters are removed, enabling the bears to literally expand into the new space. All the while, remaining letters count down, turn by turn, transforming to stone when they reach zero, scuppering subsequent bear expansion. The key is to never let that happen – or to at least strategize to keep the biggest areas of space open, in order to grow the biggest bears.

At the end of the round, your score will be totted up. Do well enough and you’ll likely be awarded a special bear, which can be used to power-up subsequent attempts in a mildly baffling meta-game. There, you select bears that provide bonus boosts and make certain letters appear more frequently; and after a game, they take ‘naps’ that put them out of action for minutes or hours, forcing you to continually change your selection. It’s all a bit weird, but the core game clicks quickly, even if it takes a long while to master. Also, note that while Alphabear has freemium timers that limit how many goes you can have in quick succession, you can be rid of them for a one-off ‘infinite honey’ payment.”

The sequel promises a wave of new features – we’ll take a look in more detail for a full review in due course, but for the moment this is a developer that’s earned our trust and we’d say that anyone with an interest in word games should give this delightful series a go. Like it’s predecessor, Alphabear 2 is a free download.

Get Alphabear 2