Wordle has been flooding our social media feed with its charming mosaic of green-yellow-grey grids. But if playing it only once a day doesn’t quite scratch your word game itch, you can consider one of the game’s better but more challenging clones: Absurdle, a self-described “adversarial variant” of Wordle. It is, in short, what Wordle would be if it was infused with an AI gone rogue, which makes Absurdle a much more punishing experience.
Let me explain. Wordle gets you to guess a particular five-letter word of the day in six attempts, gently guiding you to the correct word with its green, yellow and grey grids. Absurdle still adheres closely to this green-yellow-grey formula, but with one distinct difference: the word it has in mind changes with every attempt you make. The closest comparison I can make is that Absurdle is a little like playing a round of Hangman with a particularly devious executioner or host, who keeps changing their mind on what their secret word is. That said, Absurdle isn’t contingent on random guesses, nor does it intentionally lie about what letters you’ve used. Instead, it’s a rather fascinating tweak to the Wordle formula—one that’s motivated to keep you playing the game for as long as possible. Fortunately, you also have unlimited guesses.
For instance, Absurdle may have the word “CIGAR” in mind, but your first guess is “TERNS”. Absurdle lets you know that you’ve gotten one letter right—which is R—with a yellow box, but it then switches out its word with another that still fits the constraints of the hints it has given you, such as “DWARF”. Of course, “TERNS” is immediately discarded, so it’s not like you will eventually get at the right word by typing the same one repeatedly. The point is to eventually keep guessing at the right word until the list of words for the Absurdle algorithm to switch around gets incrementally smaller. According to the creator, there’s a list of 2,315 five-lettered words that it switches around too, so you’re going to have to keep guessing until you get it right. My lowest record is nine attempts, but the record seems to be four so far, according to a player who has been relentlessly prying at the game.
On the other hand, Absurdle is pretty rigid because of the way it’s built. That means that the algorithm will eventually give you the same word, or a word that’s at least similarly structured, if you keep probing at it in the same manner. For instance, if your first guess is always “ADIEU”—which is one of the strategies in Wordle—you may very well end up with the same final word. My suggestion is to smash that “random guess button” at the bottom of your screen on your first try for a slightly more varied experience.
Like Wordle, Absurdle is also free to play and ad-free—something that its creator, who’s only known as qntm, is keen not to monetise, unlike much more opportunistic folks. “Wordle is free and I did not feel comfortable charging money for a derivative of a free game,” said qntm on Twitter.
If you fancy playing other games who hates your guts just as much as Absurdle, you can also give Hatetris a shot—another game by the same creator, and a tetris variant that is, in their own words, powered by “the evil AI from I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream”. In other words, it’s an endless cascade of “S” blocks.
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