Whether you’re frustrated with the hit puzzle or hungry for more, there are endless alternatives – but which are the best?
By Keza MacDonald/The Guardian
The debate continues to rage among Wordle gamers: Did the New York Times screw it up? Why are there suddenly so many double-letter days (SWILL, seriously?); so many frustrating solutions that rely on a single ambiguous letter? And what about “caulking”? Something changed? Or do people just lose interest?
Since Wordle first came to the world’s attention, there has been a rapid stream of imitators and humorous interpretations of the guessing game, based on everything from swear words (Sweardle) to choral music (Byrdle) to geography (Worldle). If you’re looking for something different, rather than just an inventive twist on the same theme, the Android and Apple app stores have plenty of other word games you can play on your phone. Fans have been quietly enjoying some of these for years – some offer five or 10 daily minutes of puzzle fun, while others allow you to immerse yourself for as long as you want.
SpellTower is a combination inspired by Boggle and Tetris, in which players create words from adjacent letters in order to clear the playing space. In puzzle mode, successive layers of letters are continuously added until the pile reaches the top of the screen and the game ends. It’s a unique and compelling test of both your vocabulary and spatial planning skills, and like Wordle, it lets you see words as tactical objects as well as units of language.
It’s a truly fascinating version of Scrabble, giving you a selection of words and then challenging you to place them on the board without running out of playable spaces. Sounds easy, but if you add too many words in one corner, you can quickly find yourself drifting and you need to make careful use of the premium squares. Scrabble fans will appreciate the way the game explores word placement strategies, and success unlocks the more demanding ‘precise mode’, which requires players to finish on a specific square. Not for the faint-hearted.
BABA IT’S YOU
As much a logic game as it is a word game, this engaging lo-fi puzzle has you changing the words to change the rules. Immovable rocks can be pushed aside if you create the phrase ROCK IS MOVE; if there is a key hidden in a maze, try KEY IS YOU and you can possess it and move it to a more accessible location. It’ll outwit you, but it’ll also make you feel like a genius when you crack it.
LETTER QUEST: GRIMM’S JOURNEY
A kind of slightly violent Scrabble, in Letter Quest you guide a cute little grim reaper through dungeons full of monsters, defeating them by spawning awesome words from a panel of letter tiles. Any word will do damage, but the fun comes from finding particularly appropriate or long words; there’s nothing more satisfying than defeating a werewolf with “money”. It’s a nice combination of old-school word puzzles and dungeon-digging adventure. Anyone who played the fondly remembered Bookworm adventures, sadly now erased from existence, will especially appreciate this.
In this free and slightly bizarre game, you unscramble the words from a hexagonal grid of letters to send small armies of exploding cats towards your opponent’s house. It’s fairly frenetic, rather than contemplative, and more fun against a friend (or stranger) online, but there’s also a single-player mode, with surreal interactive comics.
It’s no different from Wordle – there’s a word the game wants you to guess, and you have to solve it – but it gives you a slot wheel of different letters, and you spin each column with your finger until something makes sense. It also has a mode where you have to find multiple words from crossword-like clues, working with what is given to you. There’s something very satisfying about the tactile nature of Typeshift, like playing with a padlock combination made out of letters.
ALPHABEAR: WORDS THROUGH TIME
It’s much cuter and weirder than anything you’ll find in a journal puzzle app – it features little square-headed bears to collect, and make longer and better words from the letter grid in front Creates you more bigger bears. It associates the construction of words with the human appetite for collecting objects. The words you spelled are then turned into nonsense cartoons after each round. It’s very funny and adorable, and engaging enough to draw kids into some spelling fun.
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