Word Sudoku by POWGI (PS4 and PS Vita) Review

If you, or a loved one, loves casually solving puzzles yet you’ve already completed all of the previous releases from Lightwood Games – Don’t worry! They’ve brought us yet another cross-buy, triple-platinum puzzle game for us to work our way through on the PlayStation 4 and the Vita. So far we’ve had a game based on word searches, one based on picross and another which was based around Fill-a-pix puzzles. It’s time for the greatest set of puzzles to finally come to the PlayStation family – Sudoku!

However, the puzzles are presented with a twist, instead of utilising the numbers 1-9 to solve them, we have 240 9-letter words which take the place of the numbers, this increases the difficulty and adds a whole new spin on the game!

word sudoku by powgi 1

Plenty of puzzles to be getting on with!

We have no story with Word Sudoku by POWGI, it’s straight into the action via a nice and simple menu that lists all 240 puzzles in various categories ranging from beginner to very hard. If you’re not sure how to play Sudoku, I’ve put up a video on YouTube, which I’ve embedded later on in this review, which just goes through me solving one of the puzzles within the game utilising both methods of completing the Sudoku. Both methods? That’s right, even though Word Sudoku by POWGI‘s main draw is the fact that you’re using letters instead of numbers, you can swap the puzzle back into a standard numerical Sudoku at any point and continue on that way if the letters aren’t doing it for you.

The fact you can swap between the two opens up this game to everyone in my opinion. Those who aren’t good with letters can opt to use the numbers and vice versa. Also, for those trophy hunters out there – yes, this is a 4 platinum game with three on offer to everyone – so one for each region of each platform with the added benefit of the game being cross-buy as well! Another added benefit for those who just want the trophies, you don’t have to complete all 240 puzzles this time around, just certain puzzles which relate to the words on the trophies. Although, I would still advise you to play through them all at your own pace and obtain the trophies as you go. 

word sudoku by powgi 2

These pencil marks are the most helpful tool ever.

Help and support?
Puzzle games can sometimes be tricky – they come with tutorials but some don’t offer much help outside of that without resorting to a hint option or help which disables trophies for that particular puzzle. Lightwood Games have been quite forgiving and helpful with their games so far and Word Sudoku by POWGI isn’t any different. We have two major help mechanics in place which makes the game easier for those who need a push in the right direction and also a great tool for those trying out the harder levels. 

Pencil Marks:
You’d be surprised how many Sudoku games out there actually forget to implement these or ignore them completely without offering any kind of alternative. Not every puzzle can be solved with a black and white definitive answer upon first look, as such, you need to be able to make ‘guesses’. If you have a square which could be a few numbers or letters, then you can press Triangle and place smaller versions of the characters in the square – these are usually done in pencil on a physical puzzle so you can erase them when you know the right answer.

They are basically what ‘could’ be in that square at that moment in time. Then, as you complete more squares around it or in the same block of nine, the guesses will automatically vanish as that guess becomes impossible due to the character already being used within that block or line. After a few correct characters have been found, it will become easier to see what should go where as you glance over the place-holders you placed previously. These are invaluable and should be used constantly as you play.

A word of warning though – the game doesn’t let you place one if the criteria is met (already in the block or line), but that doesn’t confirm your placement of the actual number/letter is correct, it just confirms you can’t put a placeholder as it’s impossible in the current layout.

word sudoku by powgi 3

Highlight to make things clearer…

Highlighting numbers:
The second helpful mechanic in Word Sudoku by POWGI is simply highlighting a certain character which again, is sometimes missed out by other games. To do this you simply press X on a square with an answer in it, or push in the touchpad and move to one of these squares, and all of the same characters will highlight. For example, if you click X on the number 4 then all the 4’s will get a highlighted border around them which makes it a lot easier to see which lines and blocks can’t contain that character as you’re working out a specific section. I used this a lot once I realised you could do it as it made looking at a glance for the identical characters much easier. Also, going back to what I said before if you do have issues with numbers and letters, using this mechanic would really help as the game shows you where that character is so you don’t get confused. 

Checking your answers:
I personally never use this one, as this one does feel like cheating, but you can also hold L1 and R1 and the game will tell you if everything is right or if there is an issue. It won’t tell you what’s wrong, it will just say if it’s all right or not. So technically you could use this to double-check a guess you make.

word sudoku by powgi 4

Oh, dear…

As with all Lightwood Games‘ games, Word Sudoku by POWGI is very clean, clear, easy to use and straightforward. Visually, the game looks great on both a big TV and the small Vita screen with all elements easy to operate, see and understand. The music is nice and chirpy and after a while, you’ll be humming along to its tune as you work out the various puzzles but you do have the option to turn it off if you decide to put on your own music or would like to concentrate in silence. The only thing I would have liked would have been a bit more colour although the way its designed now makes it look very clean and clinical – which is very pleasing to the eye. 

Two technical issues I actually had with Word Sudoku by POWGI though are the pencil marks and the undo option.
The pencil marks are great but you can’t remove them manually without deleting all of them in the square and putting them back in the ones you want to keep. It should be that if you pencil in a number you already have, then it removes that one number. I’ve been advised this is being looked into though.
The second issue with the undo button is I feel we need an undo to the undo – or a redo if you will. I accidentally pressed Square when I was doing a puzzle and 2 blocks of nine lost all their pencil marks – about 5 minutes of gameplay. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but it was annoying. 

word sudoku by powgi 5

Every puzzle has a pun or joke at the end.

Personal Opinion:
I love puzzle games, Sudoku is my joint-favourite along with Picross as they can be played casually yet they also get quite intense once the difficulty is ramped right up! Word Sudoku by POWGI is a fun take on the format by offering not only numerical puzzles but also word-based ones as well which really tests you and can get quite tricky as the difficulty of the puzzles increases. If you like puzzle games, sudoku, or just like playing casual games in general, then you should pick up this as well as Pic-a-Pix colour, Fill-a-Pix, and Wordsearch by POWGI, all of which are a low price and all have cross-buy functionality along with double platinums to earn.

Sure, there were a few issues I had with the pencil marks and the undo option, but that never distracted me from the fun I was having as I completed the puzzles. I’m really happy that Lightwood Games continues to bring new and interesting puzzle games to the PlayStation platform as I feel it’s a genre that was lacking on the PS4 as developers tend to go for more elaborate stories and visuals over nice simple puzzles. 

Me solving a puzzle:

Lightwood Games solving a puzzle:

Final Conclusion:
Word Sudoku By POWGI is yet another great puzzle game from Lightwood Games which will have you scratching your head. Not only do you get 240 puzzles which can be played as standard numerical Sudoku puzzles, but you can also play them all as 9-letter words instead. Each puzzle should take you around 10-20 minutes to complete, so you’re looking at many, many hours of entertainment for one low price. As you get the same puzzles on the PS Vita for free as part of the Cross-buy program, why not do all 240 puzzles as words on your PS4 and numbers on the Vita – that way it feels like you have two completely different games (this is what I’ll be doing). 

If you love your puzzles as much as I do, and you have an urge for Sudoku, Word Sudoku By POWGI is the perfect game for you to pick up today.


A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Word Sudoku by POWGI


Final Score


The Good:

  • - 240 puzzles which can be played with letters or numbers
  • - Chirpy music which becomes quite addictive
  • - A few 'help' mechanics for people new to sudoku
  • - Cross-buy and double platinum

The Bad:

  • - At the moment, the undo option is a bit aggressive and the pencil marks can't be manually removed individually
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