Finding ‘Connections’: the best game you aren’t playing

New NYT game is all fun and (word) games
Connections, the newest of New York Times game offerings, is the best game you arent playing, according to the Inkspots B.J. Dumas. 
Screenshot // New York Times
Connections, the newest of New York Times’ game offerings, is the best game you aren’t playing, according to the Inkspot’s B.J. Dumas. Screenshot // New York Times

It’s seemingly simple. A 16-word grid.

Screenshot // New York Times

Four chances to find the four common threads that link four of the words.

But what seems simple on the surface soon has you wanting to forfeit in frustration.   

Connections are the key to the New York Times newest game, aptly named Connections, and it’s the best game you aren’t playing.  

Some words are ambiguous–rock is that a genre of music, a mineral, Dwayne Johnson? 

There are distracting overlaps–key, tempo, metal, rock–all musical terms.

 

Connections is an undiscovered gem in a world cluttered with gaming apps and digital diversions. No flashy animations, no in-app purchases, no high scores to chase—just pure cerebral delight, rewarding you with the sweet satisfaction of a solved puzzle.

It’s all about flexing your brainpower, challenging you to unravel a web of words, to create associations that span from the mundane to the utterly mind-boggling.

Assignment, tired, tempo and defeat? All synonyms for the word beat.

Connections’ challenge is the mental battle it forces you to engage yourself in – is “yak” an animal or a synonym for chattering?  

The result of this mind-bender? Something called logic stress, a psychological effect that improves attention, concentration and problem-solving by activating the brain’s frontal lobe. 

But the game sometimes feels like a frontal lobotomy.

Screenshot // New York Times

You see it, right? The Pixar movies? “Brave,” “Cars,” “Red,” “Soul,” “Up,” “Coco…”

Six. Well, that’s two too many.

Scotch, Cider, Coco. Different beverages?

Wait, that would be cocoa…

Port? Like wine? Or is it what you plug a computer cord into?

Is it “sake” as in the English word, or “sake” the alcoholic beverage?

 

Oh, for goodness sake!

 

Or take this example.

Screenshot // New York Times

At first glance, a sense of satisfaction.

Ah! Jordan Peele movies–“Nope,” “Us,” “Get Out”–wait?

What else has he directed?

Nothing. Three connections–not enough.

 

When you finally create the quintessential quartet of phrases and the last connection is revealed, dopamine comes rushing, and a smile slowly creeps across your face.

The game celebrates creative and diverse thinking; it rewards knowledge of pop culture, the general and the trivial; it pays of a penchant for wordplay–palindromes, homophones, adding or dropping letters and words… Each day poses a new challenge and forces you to approach the puzzle from a new angle.

Screenshot: (New York Times)

Lemon, raspberry: different kinds of fruit. 

Is it called star fruit? 

Yes. 

Is jeer a fruit? 

I don’t know. 

Next. 

Dud, Flop, Bomb. Terms for failure. 

What does jilt even mean?

Conflicting concepts simultaneously race through your mind as you work towards your daily dopamine rush.

Desert, Ignore, Jilt, Ghost. Terms for breaking off contact. Yes!

You watch the screen as the plain yet satisfying victory animation shifts the words around your desktop.

Connections is a game that reminds us that in a world overflowing with distractions, sometimes the most rewarding journey occurs inside our minds. 

It’s the best game you’re not playing, but you won’t want to stop once you start.

So why don’t you give Connections a chance and match a word or two–or four.

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