Forget Elden Ring or Lego Star Wars, word games are what all the cool kids are playing these days. The colossal success of Wordle has made the alphabet the most popular since grade school, as evidenced by the legion of games like Wordle that have popped up on the internet like daffodils in the spring.
To celebrate the dictionary’s second coming, I’ve put together a list of the best free word games you can play right now. You’ll find variations on Wordle, twists on Scrabble, Tetris with letters, and even a physics-based word search. None of them will cost you a penny to play, and most can be played right in your browser. So stop reading this book like a goddamn caveman – come see what the words are really for.
Release date: 2021 | Developer: Josh Wardle | Official site
Let’s make the obvious first. Wordle is the online phenomenon where you get six attempts to guess a five letter word. Each guess colors the letters of the suggested word according to their accuracy. Green for correct, yellow for correct but misplaced and gray for Wrong. It’s smart, stylish, hugely popular, and has made Twitter even more unbearable.
Release date: 2022 | Developer: Freddie Meyer | Official site
A supercharged version of Wordle, Quordle challenges players to figure out four distinct words in nine guesses. Each guess will appear in all four boxes, which means you need to be careful and efficient with the solutions given. Ideal for Wordle fans looking for an extra challenge.
Release date: 2021 | Developer: KRGameDev | Official site
Word Whip is a quick test of your vocabulary. Each puzzle gives you a row of tiles partially filled with letters, and you have to think of as many words as possible that use those letters in those positions. For example, you might have trouble finding five-letter words beginning with “RO” or six-letter words beginning with and end with ‘S’. Like Scrabble, rare letters like X are worth more than common letters like E, so you can get a higher score by entering more obscure words. It’s one of the more original puns on this list and it executes its premise well.
valley of words
Release date: 2017 | Developer: HyperHippo| Official site
If you’ve ever thought “How about adding physics to a word search?” so either you’re the creator of Word Valley or you’re thinking weird things. This game challenges players to identify words in a bouncing jumble of letters. When you put a word together, it disappears like a line in Tetris, with the other letters falling into the freed spaces. The goal of each level is to guide a key down the stack, which will unlock a barrier to the next challenge. It’s a casual time-waster with a fun gimmick and a light-hearted fantasy theme.
Release date: 2018 | Developer: Sam Barker | Official site
What do you get if you cross letters with Tetris? That’s right, a headache! Lettris adopts the general framework of the iconic shape-matching puzzle, but each square of these falling tetrominos also has a letter on it. You have to rotate the shapes to fit the other tetrominoes so as to form words. It’s an entertaining hybrid, but fair warning, it’s very harsh and can make you squint.
Release date: 2019 | Developer: Ahmed Khalifa| Official site
Elimination is a fast-paced word game that presents you with a line of scrambled letters, then asks you to form words by removing letters from the line. It may seem simple, but the challenge is to find the word that gets the highest score among several possibilities. Longer words generally earn more points, but some letters have multipliers associated with them. You only have about ten seconds to solve each puzzle, so you must quickly identify the available words, and decide which has the most value.
Release date: 2022 | Developer: Cameron Wang | Official site
Downloadable for free on Steam, Phonetic is an unusual word game that challenges players to identify words based on their phonetic spelling. If that sounds easy, trust me, it’s not. Phonetic symbology can be difficult to decipher and you only have a limited amount of time to find the correct word. If you get it wrong three times, the game is over.
master of words
Release date: 2020 | Developer: MarketJS| Official site
Wordmeister is essentially digital Scrabble, but it differentiates itself from other digested versions of Scrabble by being single-player. It follows all the rules of the classic word game, but pits you against a capable AI opponent instead of other human players. Convenient if you don’t want to deal with Internet hazards.
Release date: 2021 | Developer: Everybody House Games| Official site
If, on the other hand, you prefer to deal with your Scrabble rivals by assassinating them, Babble Royale is the game for you. This bizarre word ’em up sees sixteen players frantically trying to find words on a giant scrabble board, which is slowly being eroded from the edges by an encroaching “hot zone”. If you form a word that connects to another player, that player dies. Fight your way to the center of the board and you can claim the title of the deadliest word thrower in town.
Release date: 2021 | Developer: MSN Games| Official site
Wander Words is similar to a word search, only each letter in the box is part of the word or phrase you are looking for. But the sentence is twisted like a snake in a shoebox, so you have to figure out where the words start and end, then drag the mouse over each letter in the correct order. Some of the sentences can be quite long, including things like famous quotes or song lyrics. Each game gives you five minutes to solve as many Wander Words as you can, and you might be surprised how difficult it is.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Smart Apps| Official site
Crocword is all about making the most of a few letters. Each challenge presents you with a simple crossword and a group of letters at the bottom of the screen. Using the mouse, you must join the letters in different combinations to complete the crossword puzzle. Initially simple, Crocword grows increasingly complex, challenging you to find longer words in larger combinations. Most levels also have hidden words to find, which is a nice touch.
Release date: 2013 | Developer: Justin Hook| Official site
Google Feud borrows the structure of daytime TV classic Family Feud (Family Fortunes if you’re from the UK) and combines it with the weird and wonderful world of Google Autocomplete. You choose from a range of categories such as People, Culture, Names, etc., and receive a prompt like “How do I get rid of-” or “My cat likes to eat-“. You then have to guess the ten most popular Google searches based on this prompt. The results are often hilarious, often confusing, and will sometimes make you want to rinse your eyes out with bleach.