21 November 2013, London. The game that’s so obvious it’s been sitting in plain sight for thousands of years is coming to an App Store near you today. An antidote to next gen console overload, Woodlouse is the simplest and purist game ever released but one which, once it gets its hooks in you, will never let go. Its super-simple word-hunting mechanic and ultra-clean design aesthetic also brings the world a new genre – the ‘background game’.
Woodlouse asks just one simple question of its players – how many words can you think of that have more vowels in them than consonants?
That’s it. A posh list. But it’s so much more than that…
Originally conceived in a warehouse over twenty years ago, Woodlouse is the brainchild of independent developer Pete Morrish. The simplicity of the concept belies the lexicographical crack that the game experience delivers. Not really a game you play, as much as it’s a game that plays you, it will sit in the background of your life as a challenge that frames every single second of every single day. Once you start your list there’ll be a part of your brain that’s hijacked for ever more – everything you read, every item you see, every place you visit will be parsed by that corner of your sub-conscious in the quest for more Woodlouse words.
In addition to the primary goal of finding vowelly words, the free game also includes global and friends leaderboards, and a selection of purchasable alternative scoring modes designed to appeal to true Woodlouse fans. Players can also opt to pay for an integrated dictionary which will provide definitions for any of their discovered words. The game also includes a unique Achievements system that uses Game Center to layer a quiz over the core experience. Fifty increasingly cryptic clues hint at valid Woodlouse words which unlock achievements when they’re added to the main list.
Specifically designed to be there when you need it, Woodlouse was created with iPhone firmly in its sights. The experience is consciously wrapped up in an experimental, hyperminimal and ultraflat UI that sits beautifully within iOS7’s flat lines on iPhone and iPod Touch, and even complements the new iPhone 5c with a selection of background colours that will match your 5c of choice.
In a bid to support up-and-coming independent developers, Morrish and his co-creator Jake Simpson will also be releasing all the design documentation from the project to show how a deceptively simple premise still requires highly detailed and thoroughly considered plans.
And if you’re thinking there can’t be all that many Woodlouse words in the English language then consider this – Woodlouse has become Pete Morrish’s most played game of all time and he’s found over 1500 words, with more popping up every day. You could say they were almost ubiquitous. There’s another one!
Woodlouse is available for free on all iOS devices running iOS 6 and above (including scaled mode on iPad) here: itunes.com/apps/woodlouse