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The best free Android games 2020

The best free word games for Android

Our favorite free Android games that are all about letters, anagrams and crosswords.

(Image credit: AI Dungeon)

AI Dungeon

AI Dungeon is a free Android game that uses the mechanics of ancient text adventures, but fuses them to an AI that creates a story and writes it on the fly. Imagine something like Zork being endlessly rewritten by an unhinged group of scribes who can’t quite agree on what should come next.

Whether or not you’ve experienced traditional text adventures, AI Dungeon is fascinating. The AI darts between forgetful, bonkers, brilliant, and imaginative. However, stories can be upended on a single turn, and the app’s grasp of people, places, locations, and objects is often hazy. If you want solid, handcrafted tales, look elsewhere.

What AI Dungeon provides are limitless opportunities to revel in dreamlike narrative worlds, whether you work with its built-in examples, or cook up your own adventure to share – which only requires you type a few lines of introductory text to get started.

Typochondria

Typochondria is the ideal word game for anyone who gets miffed on spotting a terrible spelling mistake when reading a book or article. Your beady eye is pitted against the clock, with you tapping typos within the paragraphs of a crime novel. It proves surprisingly fun – and nerve-racking when you’re down to your final seconds and just can’t find a misspelling.

If that all sounds a bit too stressful, there’s a Zen mode for when you want to relax and play endlessly, without any risk. There’s a tough challenge mode, too, which tasks you with finding how many errors are within a specific page. IAP lurks, but only to try your hand at other genres, including sci-fi, romance and non-fiction. Buying any of these inexpensive packs removes the ads.

Alphabear 2

Alphabear 2 is the sequel to TechRadar favorite Alphabear – a word game that mixes up anagrams and large furry critters.

Each game takes place on a grid, and you select letters to form words. Used letters vanish and bears then fill the gaps. But if turn-based countdowns on any letters reach zero, the tiles turn to stone, scuppering gigantobear schemes.

The game shakes things up a bit with timed levels, and a fairly baffling meta-game where you collect bears to unlock a bewildering array of bonuses. There’s also a smattering of educational content lurking within, giving you an excuse when someone asks if you’re wasting all your time playing games again. 

Well worth bear-ing in mind, then, if you’ve a hankering for a fab new set of word puzzles.

Bonza Word Puzzle

Bonza Word Puzzle deconstructs the classic crossword. Rather than a clue for each word, you get one for the entire puzzle. Said challenge is essentially a completed crossword that’s been hacked to bits and sprayed across your screen like a cross between a Scrabble set and tetrominoes.

Early levels lead you in gently. When there are only a few pieces to manipulate, it’s not much trouble to complete the puzzle before you. But when you’re staring at a dozen or more tiny clusters of letters, figuring out how they all join up is an invigorating test.

Bonza does have IAP for level packs, but you get a decent selection for free. Even better: every day, you receive a new puzzle, giving the game reason to stick around on your device for the long term.

Dropwords 2

Dropwords 2 brings together Boggle and Bejeweled. You sit before a five-by-five grid of letters while a timer ticks down. When you spot a word that snakes through the board, you tap it out from start to end. Submit your word and its letters vanish; gravity then has its brief moment of glory, bringing in new letters for you to use.

Like in timed Bejeweled modes, fast matches are the key to high scores. However, keeping your timer bar full doesn’t just require rapidly submitting words, but also finding longer ones that’ll give you an extra second or two.

If that all seems a bit stressful, there are more relaxing modes too. And the app rather neatly provides a slew of other customization options, from larger boards to alternate typefaces – just as well, given the default Chalkboard that whiffs of Comic Sans.

Jumbline 2

Jumbline 2 is one for anagram fiends. Its main mode starts life as a row of scrambled letters, and a bunch of empty slots awaiting any words you find. Against the clock (which is surprisingly tense and exciting), or in a more relaxed timer-free mode, you drag to rearrange letters, and then draw a line beneath relevant ones to send a word to its slot. Get them all to try the next level.

There are two additional modes as well. Cloud Pop has you fashion words from letters found within clouds, using them before they vanish from the screen, but Star Tower is better, having you create the floors of a tower as it gradually scrolls downwards. Longer words make for taller floors, gaining you precious extra seconds to get your brain in gear and think of something suitably amazing with your next set of letters.

Letterpress

Letterpress combines the anagrams of Boggle with the territory capturing of Risk. Two players take part in a turn-based battle on a five-by-five grid of letters. Any letters used in your word turn your color – but there’s a twist: those surrounded by your tiles cannot be captured by the other player during their turn.

Strategy within Letterpress is therefore not just about finding the biggest words – and certainly not if its tiles are spread about the board. You must instead cunningly eat into your opponent’s territory while safeguarding your own. Battles become like an intense tug of war, ramping up the excitement and providing the kind of edge not usually found in word games.

Spellspire

Spellspire finds you as a crotchety wizard, trying to climb a tower. The snag is that heavily armed monsters want to stop you. This might not sound like the premise for a typical word game, but Spellspire adds a bit of magic to the anagrams mix.

On each floor, you get 10 letters to juggle and form into words that become fuel for spells. Short words only unleash a smallish magical blast, but longer words give your foes a serious kicking. Perform well on your quests and you’ll over time acquire new bling, with which to take on tougher floors.

There’s a bit of grind – you’ll need to replay levels to get enough clout to duff up even the earliest boss – but Spellspire is always fun, and you’ll smile from ear to ear once you start walloping foes with seven-letter words.

Typeshift

Typeshift rethinks anagrams, word searches and crosswords. Each puzzle comprises columns of letters you can drag up and down, the aim being to make a complete word in the central row. When you do so, the word’s letters change color. To complete the puzzle, you must color all of the letters.

Although completing puzzles at speed rewards you with higher scores on the leaderboard, such aspects to Typeshift are largely hidden. This is mostly a lean-back game to relax with, but should you hanker for an additional layer of brain-smashing, you can try cracking crossword-style puzzles where you match words to set clues.

It’s worth noting that Typeshift’s puzzles are hand-crafted, not algorithmically generated, so they do run out - and only some of them are free. Still, there’s always a daily puzzle to try your hand (or your best swiping finger) at.

Scrabble

Yes, the proper Scrabble, not some copyright-infringing clone that'll be pulled by the time you read these words. EA bought the license, tidied it up and stuck it out on Android, where it's a remarkably advert and in-app purchase free experience.

It's been beefed up with a few new modes, but stuff like the ability to sync with Facebook and play multiple matches is actually exactly what you need. A classic that's not been ruined. Hooray.