Wordlings

App review by
Galen McQuillen, Common Sense Media
Wordlings App Poster Image
Slick collection of word-hunting games is addictive fun.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Though not explicitly educational, it offers some good practice for kids with growing vocabularies and spelling skills. The rich tutorials throughout the app teach the game mechanics well, and power-ups encourage more complex thinking, challenging kids to figure out increasingly difficult words. There's not much support for picking up new words, though, so it's more about flexible thinking and language mechanics.

Ease of Play

Controls are intuitive, though for time-based games they're occasionally cumbersome, requiring additional taps when one would do just fine. Tutorials make learning the ins and outs very easy. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language

Possible that parents and kids might find some playable words objectionable, though none were seen at time of review. They're not required for progressing through the game, so even if they're legal plays, there's a low chance kids will see them.

Consumerism

In-app currency called "orbs" drive power-up purchases or unlock game modes, all of which can be bought for real-world money or earned by viewing advertisement videos. No parent gate on purchases. Occasional pop-ups appear to promote these options, but the game is perfectly playable without you ever spending a cent. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wordlings is a word-hunting game featuring multiple modes, along with a host of creatures that grant power-ups for making specific kinds of words. It has a very large dictionary of playable words and rewards rare and uncommon words over more common plays. There are competitive and collaborative multiplayer modes but none that features any kind of in-game chat. In-app purchases and ads grant more power-ups and hints, but they are avoidable. Read the app's privacy policy for information on the kinds of data it collects and shares. 

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What's it about?

WORDLINGS is a casual mobile game that lets players choose from a variety of word-hunting games and gain power-ups along the way to chase higher scores. Players can unscramble letters to form words, find all possible word combinations from a fixed set, or link letters in a grid to find words, and more. Along the way, victories grant orbs, which can be spent on Wordlings, alien creatures who give extra points for certain words (like words that end with "s," or four-letter words). Players can have three active Wordlings at a time to create powerful chained combos. After enough time in the game, a multiplayer mode becomes available, allowing competitive and collaborative online play. There are also daily and weekly special challenges and tournaments to keep the game fresh and exciting. Players can buy more orbs and hints with real money, though it's possible to play continuously without spending any cash.

Is it any good?

Aside from the power-up mechanic, this word-game app features the same tried-and-true wordplay of its predecessors, wrapped up in a highly entertaining package. There's not much new here, but that's not a bad thing, as Wordlings packages the same games in a delicious, slick, bite-sized format, making it good for a five-minute train ride, a two-hour weekend gaming binge, and everything in between. In-app purchase reminders are a bit annoying, but the game is perfectly playable without you paying a cent. It's great for young kids looking for vocabulary practice and veteran ranked Scrabble players looking for some good cross-training between matches. A few minor control and interface annoyances occasionally interfere with flow, but the overall experience is totally great. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about in-app purchases and your rules about them. Can kids buy more orbs or tickets in Wordlings?

  • Talk about vocabulary and word parts that can build a larger knowledge base of uncommon words. What's the value of having a large vocabulary? 

  • Discuss the value of persistence in problem-solving. Some puzzles require finding every possible combination of words from a fixed set, which can be frustrating if the last few are words you don't know. Why is it worth pushing through that frustration, even in games?

  • Talk about the difference between competitive and collaborative multiplayer games. Is there enough joy and satisfaction in working together toward a common goal as there is in defeating an opponent?

App details

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