Wordle, a free game, gives players six attempts to correctly guess a five-letter word — which can be surprisingly difficult
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Wordle
Credit: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty

Move over Sudoku, because there's a new hit puzzle game sweeping the country.

Wordle is an online game that gives players six attempts to correctly guess guess a five-letter word. Although simple in premise, the game can be surprisingly difficult. To help them along the way, players even receive hints — the game's tiles will change colors depending on if a letter is in the word but currently in the wrong place (yellow), if a letter is in the right place (green), or if a letter is not in the word at all (gray).

What's helped drive the popularity of Wordle is the community aspect surrounding it. All players are given the same word each day, no matter their location. And when a player's six tries are up, they can post results to social media (with the letters removed to avoid spoilers), letting them compare their attempts with friends and strangers — even if they came up frustratingly short.

"I cannot describe how disappointed I am in myself that I didn't get today's Wordle!" one woman wrote on Twitter of Wednesday's word, along with an image of gray tiles outnumbering green and yellow ones.

Added another of their failed attempt: "This is literally so embarrassing goodnight."

When a player logs on to the Wordle webpage, they may notice one thing in particular right away — the site itself features nothing but the essentials.

In all, Wordle's website only features a keyboard at the bottom of the page, the 30 tiles that make up the game, and some customization and help options on its upper menu.

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In an era where free games are really only free when they're filled with advertisements or microtransactions, Wordle's simplicity is quite refreshing.

"Making Wordle I specifically rejected a bunch of the things you're supposed to do for a mobile game," software engineer Josh Wardle, who originally created the game to play with his partner, told NPR.

Another great thing about the structure of the game is that it's designed to be played only once a day. So, unless a player opens a different browser than the one they originally used, Wordle likely won't become an addictive distraction for users.

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As of this week, Wordle — which Wardle named after a variation of his last name — was approaching 3 million users, he told NPR.

But Wardle, who lives in New York City and is from the United Kingdom, says the popularity of the game has placed some pressure on him.

"It going viral doesn't feel great to be honest. I feel a sense of responsibility for the players," he told The Guardian." I feel I really owe it to them to keep things running and make sure everything's working correctly."