Wordle is a word game that hardly needs an introduction as throughout the middle of the pandemic sweeping the globe, the set of 5 green and yellow emoji boxes became ubiquitous in everyone’s social media feeds. Ascending in popularity so quickly even enabled sole creator, Josh Wardle, to sell the game to the New York Times for somewhere in the 7-figure range. Since its debut, several clever games based on a similar format have been released and expanded on the original in new and creative ways.
A game in the style of the game show Lingo and the board game Mastermind, Wordle tasks the player with guessing a 5 letter word in up to 6 guesses. Each attempt returns some information as to which letters are correct or not in the correct placement allowing you to narrow down the available answers. Many games utilizing a similar format and expanding on the concept have emerged and are very much worth your time.
Quordle is for those who find Wordle too simple/easy for their liking and want an even greater challenge. You are given a few more chances to guess on the four wordle boards simultaneously. It takes a bit more strategy and thought to make the best use of each and every guess to give you more information for all 4 boards to complete them before your guesses run out. I enjoyed the extra level of strategy in selecting words to try and gather the most useful feedback on all four of the boards but it is most definitely a step up from the base game.
Waffle shows you a grid with 6 words that intersect and allows you to swap individual letters up to 15 times. Each swap gives you more information about the placement of the letters a la wordle with yellow and green tiles but you have to consider each move to end up with all of the letters in their correct locations before the limit is up. The twist on the formula, having all the letters at the start and having to swap 1-to-1 maneuvering letters around the board adds a fresh layer to the Wordle-like formula. This variation is one of my favorite word-based offshoots as it changes just enough to make it a wholly new experience but keeps the vernacular of green, yellow and gray to inform your moves.
Nerdle ditches letters for numbers and has you follow the same six guesses formula for wordle but in regards to deciphering an equation. This game is definitely for the math inclined and forces you back to middle school remembering order of operations (shoutout to PEMDAS) to solve the puzzles. Personally, not my go-to as I gravitate more towards word games, but this one is well made and beloved by many.
Knotwords is a new word game on iOS, Android and PC which is a mix of crossword puzzle layout and kenken logic applied to letters. Another fantastic release by indie game creator Zach Gage, Knotwords takes already existing puzzle game rules and mixes them to create something simultaneously new and welcoming. With both daily classic and twist versions (twist gives you information on vowel amounts per row or column) as well as large monthly puzzlebooks there is so much to like about this game. Its clean design and gleefully silly rabbit-like creature that celebrates every solved puzzle really has me hooked and has firmly cemented itself in my gaming routine. I have kept my daily streaks going for daily boards since it was released and am still just as hooked as on day one.
Heardle switches formats from the written word to audio and tasks the player with listening to clips of songs and guessing the artist and track. Each subsequent guess unlocks a slightly extended clip, giving you just a smidgen more information to try and recall a past hit single. This one plays towards the player’s musical taste so some selections may be tracks you have never heard of which dulls the experience since you have to wait a day for another chance to play. Still, when you can pull the answer out of the recesses of your memory the feeling of success is fantastic.
Framed shifts the game towards movies, giving you single still frames from a movie and with each guess you are given an additional one. They gradually dole out images that give more information so by guess/frame 6 you should have seen at least one of the starring actors or a major plot point to help you on your way. This one is dead simple but very satisfying, especially when you can get the solution in one still frame. I find myself coming back to Framed most days because it is quick and fun and doesn’t require as much logic and commitment as some of the other options on this list. Any movie buff should have a go with Framed and test their mettle!
Box Office Game was inspired by the podcast Blank Check, an amazing show hosted by Griffin Newman, David Sims and Ben Hosley (a man with many names), wherein they play the box office game at the end of each episode. You are tasked with naming the top 5 box office earners on a given date and can click various items for hints on each film. But each of those hints comes at the cost of points deducted from your final total. Trying to remember which movies were showing simultaneously and figuring them all out based on the tidbits of information is tough but fair and while not as hilarious as listening to Griffin recall the list on the podcast, is a great way to play at home.
Actorle rounds out our list, another film based wordle-like but this time focused on deciphering an actor’s name from their imdb history. At first, you are only given a year of release, genre and imdb rating number and with each subsequent guess, a movie title is revealed to give more information to go on. I find this one to be quite hard off the bat, but with one or two film titles uncovered it gives you a lot of data to inform future guesses. This game has exposed many holes in my own film-watching history and has led me to add many movies to my future watch list.
Wordle and its offshoots are here to stay but only time will tell if more of them gain the explosive popularity of the original. I think a perfect storm of the majority of the world in quarantine and ease of sharing scores via emoji lent Wordle a special ability to spread, but these other games prove that there are plenty of fresh ideas to take the formula and make new and interesting experiences. I look forward to the next games to come around that learn from Wordle and its variations!