Some people think Wordle is based on the television show Lingo. Others say that it dates back to the classic game Mastermind. In reality, the format goes back even further to a pen and paper game called Bulls and Cows.
Regardless of where you stand, the classic concept has remained throughout the ages for a reason: it’s damn fun.
Many thanks to Fred Wood for the review code.
It’s a concept that many will be familiar with already, and Words with Freds doesn’t change up that formula in any way. The objective is to discover the hidden code, which – in this case – consists of a five letter word. You have six opportunities to crack the code, which you do by attempting to guess the code word. Each letter will then be marked to designate whether it is in the code word, and also if the placement is correct. Each try will net you more clues, but also fewer available attempts in which to crack the code.
It’s a timeless formula, as has been proved by the way it comes back into popularity every so often. The presentation of Words with Freds is very reminiscent of the Wordle iteration, down to the instructions looking almost identical, but it does allow for customisation of both the background and colour scheme to help spice things up. It’s a nice touch and there’s bound to be something here for everyone. With the second update it added music and sound effects, which it was surprisingly lacking from the original release. That too has quite a variety of options to help adjust it to your liking and it really helps make you want to play the game for extended play sessions.
Games play out surprisingly well, considering it uses an onscreen keyboard. You are able to use the d-pad to navigate around, thanks to the latest patch, but the best way is to use the game’s targeting reticle to select each letter. It moves at a pleasant speed, never feeling too fast nor too slow, making word entry a breeze. Button presses can be used to delete incorrect letters and to submit words, which also eases things, although they’re not remappable – meaning you will have to fight the urge to use B to erase any mistakes. The game can also be played in handheld, which utilises touch screen controls, although I never found that I needed to because using a controller felt perfectly fine.
…and that’s about all there is too it. It’s a fun formula and has been well adapted to the Switch, but it’s pretty minimal with what’s on offer. The developer has added some statistics to keep track of your progress, but there’s little more to encourage replayability outside of the core formula. No alteration of word size for custom difficulties, no VS mode, no unlockables,- just the standard game. For the price, you can’t expect much more, but it would have been nice to see it have its own twist on the formula to help it stand out from other games.
The price itself is as cheap as Nintendo will allow, although note that for the first month it is free for anyone who owns LOVE, Kuso, or Pulstario. If you own any of those titles then grabbing it is a no brainer, but at €0.99 it’s still a bargain for any fans of the formula.
Words with Freds is what it appears to be: a Switch adaption of a current craze. It could do with some kind of USP to help it stand out; however, if you’re addicted to Wordle and looking for a cheap alternative with no limits, this may very well be for you.