Absurdle is a Wordle variant that hates you – while Sweardle curses you


Wordle has engrossed me for a couple of weeks, along with much of the rest of the internet. It’s also a free, simple word game, meaning it’s relatively easy to recreate. Naturally, other developers are building their own twists on its core.

Among them, Absurdle is my favourite, an “adversarial version” of the game where the winning word changes as you guess. I’m also fond of Sweardle, however, a version designed for four-letter words.

The concept of Wordle is simple: you’ve got six attempts to guess the winning five-letter word. Correct letters in a guess are marked yellow, or green if they’re also in the correct position. With each guess, the possible winning words decrease, and you hone-in on the correct answer – or not. All of the variants maintain these core elements, while tweaking the rest.

For example, in Wordle, the social element of everyone playing the same puzzle – only one a day – is a big part of the appeal. Absurdle doesn’t have that, because the winning word on any given puzzle changes with each guess. If Wordle is a game you could play with a friend by asking them to think of a word, Absurdle is a game you could play with an enemy intent on lying to you about whatever word they initially picked.

Its developer has written a blog post explaining more of how it works. Why it works for me is that you get infinite guesses, meaning that it’s not actually impossible to win. The challenge is instead winning in as few moves as possible. The best I can manage is seven, but its tricksiness makes Absurdle feel like a game that rewards optimisation. Wordle, by comparison, feels like it’s rendered less interesting if you just guess the maximally efficient word each time.

If you like Absurdle, its developer has form, having also made HATETRIS, a version of Tetris that deliberately gives you pieces which screw you.

Sweardle, meanwhile, is much simpler: you get four attempts to guess a four-letter word, with only swear words allowed. This is, I’m ashamed to admit, the first Wordle or Wordle-variant where I’ve failed to find the winner. Perhaps you’re more potty-mouthed than me.

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