Democracy Dies in Darkness

Want to play Wordle against your friends? Try Word Fight.

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Part of the appeal of Wordle, the viral five-letter word deduction game scooped up by the New York Times in January, is there’s no wrong way to enjoy it. It can be a relaxing daily ritual or a competition against the other players showing off their results on your social media feed. The surge of copycats and Wordle-inspired games has slowed since peak Wordle fever, but it hasn’t stopped completely. Now, a new two-player adaptation, Word Fight, combines the puzzle format of Wordle with the competitive back-and-forth of Words With Friends.

Two players take turns guessing a five-letter mystery word, and the first to guess correctly wins. Each player has 24 hours to take their turn. Both have an infinite number of guesses, and there’s no limit to the number of puzzles you can solve in a day. You can add friends to face off against or match up with random players, and there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how many “Fights” you can have going on simultaneously.

Similar to Wordle, a green tile indicates the correct letter is in the correct place, while an orange tile indicates that a letter is somewhere else in the mystery word. Players can see each other’s colored tiles, which puts the pressure on if your opponent is getting close.

You can toggle whether to show each other’s words or keep them hidden, which made for two different play experiences. Not being able to see my opponent’s guesses made things feel more competitive, but having them visible turned it into a race to see who could screw over the other first.

In one match, I didn’t guess a single letter correctly with my starting word. My husband had much more luck: His first two guesses revealed the solution began with G and O, with an E in there somewhere. Armed with that information, I gleefully stole his momentum by guessing the correct word, Golem, on my next turn.

Meet Worldle, the geography guessing game its creator calls a ‘tribute’ to Wordle

We both attempted to solve that day’s Wordle puzzle side by side, taking turns like in Word Fight, to see how the play experience compared. With only five available guesses for that day’s puzzle, it felt more like we had a common goal than we were facing off head to head. It was tempting to collaborate and pool our wrongly guessed letters together to see what possible solutions our combined vocabulary could muster.

Word Fight’s interface could use some polish, though. The instructions aren’t clearly worded, so it was confusing to figure out how the turns worked (either player can make the first guess, and then it goes back and forth after that). Sometimes the “Your move” prompt would erroneously pop up instead of “Waiting for opponent,” which confused things even more.

The app, which is available on iOS and Android, is the brainchild of Gavin Wong, a New Zealand-based tech entrepreneur. Wong said he plays Wordle daily with his partner and was inspired to create a two-player version after racing with them one morning over coffee to be the first to solve that day’s puzzle.

Word Fight is one of several multiplayer versions inspired by Wordle. After playing a few of them, though, I found that none of them scratched quite the same itch as Word Fight. They were either too competitive, having players race against each other in real time, or imposed limits on the number of guesses, or by adding timers. While still fun, those versions just didn’t capture the same casual-except-not-really vibe of a close round of Words With Friends. And so, I’ll just continue stealing victories from my husband in Word Fight.