I can’t say that Wordle, the viral word-guessing game that people can’t stop obsessing over, has significantly changed my life.
Sure, I wish that I too had a partner who’d build an entire game for me just because I was bored from isolation, like Wordle creator Josh Wardle did for his partner. I definitely wish I had the seven-figure sum the viral game sold for.
But for me, Wordle offers a quiet comfort amid my daily routine, a little ritual I can take on every day even if it’s just so I can post my second-row green squares on Instagram (because are you even playing Wordle if you aren’t flexing about it on social media?).
Yet, I can’t quite explain the magnetic pull this online game has over me. Maybe it’s because I like the chase of having to wait for the game to refresh itself, an act infinitely better than waiting for a text from a mysterious crush. But given that I’m part of a generation used to having everything from our movies to our meals on demand, I can’t help but also feel frustrated with this daily timer I have to deal with for my micro dopamine fix.
Luckily, the raging success of Wordle has in turn sparked several spin-offs for me to dabble in while I wait for my main squeeze to be available again. So, I tried a bunch of them to see if they were good enough for me to cheat on the OG.
If there’s one thing to take away from this game, it’s that it probably picked the right name. Absurdle calls itself the “adversarial version” of Wordle, and after you mess up on the first six tries, you realise they really weren’t kidding. And that’s pretty fitting given that the creators of Absurdle also made Hatetris, a version of Tetris that gives you the worst possible pieces.
Instead of picking a word right from the start, this game tailors the final word according to your guesses, which means there are roughly 2,315 possible answers each time. The point is to make the game go on for as long as possible, almost like that toxic fuckboi who’ll always keep you guessing until you realise that’s what makes you keep going back to them. The good thing about this game though is that instead of the standard six tries before your phone screen tells you you’re a failure, it gives you unlimited chances to screw up and maybe learn from your mistakes.
After nine excruciating tries, I finally got the right word: “jazzy.” If only I could say I still felt jazzy after spending almost an hour trying to crack the code. I think I’d rather just let the fuckboi waste my precious hours next time.
When I first found out that Wordle had a spin-off called Lewdle that only allowed for profane or vulgar five-letter words, I was intrigued. I approached this game with the same excitement as a sixth grader who thinks they’re suddenly baddies for using a “bad word” they picked out from an older cousin’s chat with their friends.
I kicked things off with the term I usually use to refer to my best friends: sluts. The tiles turned to let me know that the only thing I got right was the T. So, of course, I went into overdrive trying to think of all the vulgar words that started with a T. After two failed tries, I sort of gave up and tried out “think,” only to be informed that this act wasn’t a part of their “dicktionary.”
As I neared the end, I panicked and added a random W to guess Twink, a word which referrs to an attractive gay man with a boyish appearance. It was a word I hadn’t ever used IRL, but had come across in a few VICE articles. And turns out, my random guess was right after all.
So I guess the lesson here is that the more VICE articles you read, the better you get at playing Lewdle.
I’ve never really been one for solving Sunday crossword puzzles, but I decided to try Crosswordle just for kicks. Once I did, I wish I had just kicked myself instead.
In this game, you have to figure out two words of varying lengths that intersect with each other at one letter. It’s kind of like a crossword puzzle except it offers no written clues to make it any easier.
Maybe I was just too burnt out to think up multiple words. Maybe I just didn’t like how each letter seemed like it was two-timing the word it belonged to. But this game had me so frustrated, I almost banged my head against my phone. Somewhere between trying to find the common link between “shrug” and “dragon,” I could feel my senses numbing. But I powered through anyway and made it to the end in five tries. I guess it was an exercise in resilience?
Still, this was one fling I probably would not get back to.
To shake things up a bit, and overcome the brain fog and fatigue of staring at the same type of tiles over and over, I decided to try a game that I remember playing in college. A mix of Boggle and Wordle, Wordscapes essentially offers you a combination of scrambled letters that you select to create a bunch of words.
Maybe it was the comforting presence of an old friend I had grown familiar with over the years, but this game was the exact dose I needed to conquer the frustration I felt from the earlier games. So yes, while it wasn’t exactly a spin-off of the viral game, it was definitely what I needed to keep my head from spinning.
I thought I would save the best for last, and went for Sweardle, a game which is kind of like Lewdle but only has four-letter words for you to guess. Given that my go-to swear word is “asshole,” I knew I had to step it up to fit into four letters in six tries.
So, I decided to try my luck and entered the word “dick” instead. When none of the letters flashed that familiar green, I let an expletive out loud. Maybe the website developers had tapped into my phone, but right after that, the game wouldn’t allow me to fill in the second line, leaving a gaping hole instead. The next word I guessed, “arse,” showed up on the third line, so I’m guessing this game still has bugs that need fixing. But once again, nothing.
I had lost, I realised as the game gleefully, almost mockingly, told me I couldn’t get it right before declaring the word was “hump.” But as disappointed as I was that I lost at a game I thought I would kill at, I liked that the game challenged me to broaden my swearscapes with the same philosophy my editor applies – less is more.
Ultimately, all the side hoes couldn’t get me to stray away from my main. In fact, by the time I was finished with all the other versions, Wordle seemed to have gotten incredibly easier. I even managed to guess the word of the day within two tries, a feat I promptly and proudly shared on every family WhatsApp group. I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder.