AlphaJax is really just a form of Scrabble. For those not familiar, Scrabble is a board game where players have a series of tiles with letters, and they use those letters to form words. The words connect into other words across the board (crossword style). Points are awarded based on the value of the letter, and special conditions that exist on certain squares of the board.
For many, these sort of word games can be quite addicting (and the long-running success of Scrabble as a physical board game is proof of this). For those wanting a Windows 8 option for long-distance play, AlphaJax does deliver.
Graphically, this game looks pretty good. Really, it's one of the better looking Windows 8 games I've played. The tiles are easy to read (and the game conveniently zooms in to the area of the board when you start laying down tiles, making deploying them accurately even easier). I had no issues seeing any aspects of the board itself, and all the menus were clearly identifiable. As a board game, this doesn't have a lot of moving parts (it's not a game you're really going to care about graphics on), and even slower computers running Windows 8 should have no concerns in the graphics department.
As for sound, I felt the background music was overly repetitive and annoying. The simple sound effects for playing pieces were fine, but I'd have preferred them to not place music in the game at all rather than insert elevator music. I just recommend disabling music and playing MP3s while you make your words.
The controls are simple and solid. I played with a mouse, and the game consists of clicking on tiles and clicking on board squares. Unsurprisingly, I had no difficulties doing this. I imagine touch controls are likewise responsive, though if you are playing on a small screen there could be some slight frustration (but, as noted in the Graphics section, the game does zoom in to the area of play once you drop the first tile, so it does help out in that regard). Mistakes can be undone anyway, so a poorly placed tile causes no damage to one's turn.
There is no story. Nor is there supposed to be one (but, since it is a standard section of my reviews, I am noting this here). This isn't Scrabble Quest, so if you only like games with stories, avoid this one. AlphaJax is all about the gameplay.
Replay Value (10/10)
If you like Scrabble, then you are going to get a lot of replay out of AlphaJax. You can run multiple games at a time (I had at least 25 going at one point, but it does cap out). You can play against anyone in your friends list. It supports local play where people can take turns on the computer. It has a random match option to have an opponent selected at random. And, since the game keeps track of your stats, it also has a skill match option to face off against a random opponent who is at a similar level of talent as yourself.
"Fun" Factor (7/10)
Overall, I think AlphaJax is quite a bit of fun for fans of word games. I like that it allows so many games to be run concurrently, and that there are easy (and fast!) ways to face off against friends or total strangers. It's turn-based play means no one needs to be online at the same time, and so it truly offers a great deal of flexibility.
The biggest downside on fun, for me, is I really would have liked to see some game mode variation. Some twists on the typical play. Maybe something like a challenge mode, or handicapping features so skilled players can more appropriately face off against friends who are neophytes. Small desires in the grand scheme, but it would have upped my score for the game had they been present.
I don't rate on achievements, but for those considering this game and wondering about the challenge to full-clear it, here is some information. It is not a hard full-clear, but will take a bit of time and essentially impossible to do via legitimate play. The best way to earn the bulk of achievements is to either use an alt or have a friend setup the game board in ways to achieve almost impossible scenarios (such as spelling ALPHAJAX out on the board; given you have seven tiles to play and the rules of crossword layout to cope with, this is not going to happen on accident for you).
You can clear the whole thing in just a few hours (less than 10 easily) if you use an alt though (there's a solid walkthrough on this site that explains that approach, which is what I used successfully).
I played 200 games of various lengths, mostly against an alt (with about a half dozen random/skill matches included).
Overall score average: 8.25
Score-to-Star Translation Guide:
5 stars: 9.01 to 10 (out of 10)
4.5 stars: 8.01 to 9
4 stars: 7.01 to 8
3.5 stars: 6.01 to 7
3 stars: 5.01 to 6
2.5 stars: 4.01 to 5
2 stars: 3.01 to 4
1.5 stars: 2.01 to 3
1 star: 1.01 to 2
0.5 stars: 0 to 1