Knotwords is a sudoku style word puzzle for wordle and crossword fans

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Game designer and artist Zach Gage has made a name for himself breaking down the world’s most played games and creating something new from the pieces. He brought poker strategy to solitaire, built a chaotic version of chess with random pieces, and now made a crossword puzzle where the grids themselves are the clues.

It’s Knotwords, an everyday logic puzzle that combines design elements from several commonly played games: sudoku, kakuro, kenken and, of course, Wordle, the viral five-letter guessing game that The New York Times discovered earlier this year.

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Gage co-developed Knotwords — now available on iOS, Android, and PC — with designer and longtime collaborator Jack Schlesinger. Like all good puzzles, the principle of Knotwords is deceptively simple: put all the words in the right places.

The board looks like a crossword puzzle, but there are no trivial questions to help you guess which words go where. Instead, the board is split into multiple regions, each with a limited selection of letters you can use. These letters serve as clues to piece together the correct words to fill the grid, like in a crossword puzzle. The challenge is to tinker with these building blocks, try out different combinations of letters like you would in a number-based puzzle, and narrow down the possibilities.

Solving the puzzle then becomes a complex process that can feel like you are interweaving the cogs of a literary machine. Often the best place to start is with two- or three-letter words, where there are fewer possible solutions. After nailing those letters, you can use them as signposts to figure out what other words can or can’t be, like you do in Wordle, which helps narrow down your options for the longer words that make up the board. Once you’ve filled the array enough, the remaining solutions often snowball from there (and that’s satisfying). If you’re confused, you can unlock a hint to get the dictionary definition of any of the words that make up the grid.

Although the game has only been out for a few weeks, it has already earned Wordle creator Josh Wardle’s stamp of approval. He greeted him on Twitter as “an incredibly elegant everyday pun”.

“What impresses me most is that, despite its deceptively simple appearance, it was clearly built with great thought and care,” he wrote.

The concept of Knotwords predates Wordle, Gage said in a recent interview with the edge. He and Schlesinger originally came up with the idea while developing Good Sudoku, an app released in 2021 that streamlines the process of solving sudoku puzzles. However, Wordle’s runaway success inspired the developers to change some aspects of Knotwords’ design. For example, the game features a new puzzle every day for players to solve. Understanding Wordle’s mystery word has become a daily ritual for millions of people – the kind of pattern-seeking behavior our brains crave.

Finding an easy and visually intriguing way for players to share their winnings online was another inspiration for Wordle. After solving a puzzle, players can share a blank version on social media that anyone can print and solve without downloading the app, because Knotwords was designed to work as both an online game and a paper game.

The free version of Knotwords on mobile offers a new puzzle every day as well as 10 additional puzzles every month. Players can unlock the full game by subscribing to a $4.99 annual subscription service or paying a one-time fee of $11.99, which includes an archive of past puzzles as well as additional monthly puzzles and variations.

Many of Gage’s works have found success on mobile, including Really Bad Chess, Pocket-Run Pool, Flipflop Solitaire, and SpellTower Plus. In addition to Schlesinger, he also teamed up with “Adventure Time” creator Pendleton Ward on “Card of Darkness,” an Apple Arcade exclusive, a buzzing adventure card game.

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