Game Recs

You need to play the best free game of 2022 before it's too late

“VIRAL” is a good starter word.

Originally Published: 
puzzle art

The year is just getting started, and even though January tends to be one of the slowest months of the year for games, a defining trend for 2022 has already emerged. Curious about why you’re seeing those green and yellow squares clogging up your Twitter timeline?

Blame it all on Wordle, the passion project of a single game developer who just wants his players to have a good time. It’s free, fun, and a perfect word game to keep your vocabulary sharp.

The basics of Wordle are simple: players have six tries to guess a single five-letter word that refreshes each day at 12 a.m. local time. If your guess returns with green letters, that means those letters are the correct letter in the right place. If they’re yellow, that means the letter is in the word but in the wrong spot. See a grey tile and those letters are nowhere in the current puzzle.

The rules of Wordle are easy to grasp immediately, which has helped the game reach viral status.

Josh Wardle

The concept is simple to grasp even if you’re not a self-proclaimed wordsmith, serving as a stellar reminder of a time when simple virtual experiences provided countless hours of unadulterated addiction. What Tetris accomplished for puzzle games in the ‘80s, Wordle offers for a new generation of word games at the start of a brand-new year.

But the true brilliance of Wordle stretches beyond its central mechanics by tapping into the way we interact with the modern digital world. By ensuring that every single player across the globe is working to solve the exact same solution each day, the competitive nature of Wordle is inherent to human nature. Unlike other word games, in which you might encounter a particularly difficult level from an ongoing list of hundreds or thousands of options, now everyone you know is either pounding their head in frustration or gloating about their accomplishments from the exact same setup.

This is what Wordle looks like in action.

Josh Wardle

And to make that concept even more enticing, Wordle makes it embarrassingly easy to share your accomplishments or failures on social media at the end of each round. Want to brag about how you guessed the daily word on your first or second try? Just click the share button and paste your results on any platform you wish.

You can share your Wordle accomplishments on social media with ease.

Josh Wardle

It’s this sort of player-first design decision that has helped make Wordle a viral phenom. Unlike other social-based games that may ask you to enter your account information for the feature to work, Wordle, and its maker Josh Wardle, respects the privacy of the audience.

Jumping on the Wordle hype train doesn’t require an app store account of any kind. Just load up a web browser on your computer or phone, head to this website, and you’re good to go. There are absolutely no ads or paywalls to stop you from having fun. Its developer included color-blind settings too. Accessibility of content is essential to virality, and Wordle nails that foundation in just about every way a game possibly could.

There’s no question some of the more “hardcore gamers” who may have stumbled across this piece may scoff at a published rec for such a popular, but simple, game, but, at the very least, it’s hard to ignore just how pleasantly ideal this game is. It completely abandons the greedy tendencies that continue to permeate the triple-A space from every single possible angle. It offers a vision of gaming that enthusiast gamers wished could exist.

Perhaps Wardle’s recent statement to the BBC offers the best reason to play Wordle: “I don't understand why something can't just be fun.”

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