Vertex Is the Last Good Place Online Vertex Is the Last Good Place Online
OK, look, I know how it sounds when I say that I wind down from a long day on the internet by playing a... Vertex Is the Last Good Place Online

OK, look, I know how it sounds when I say that I wind down from a long day on the internet by playing a game on the internet. I’m a freelance journalist writing a book about private equity, which means I spend my working hours toggling between half a dozen Google Docs, twice as many academic papers, and enough Chrome tabs to regularly crash my six-year-old computer. And when I’m not writing (which, let’s be honest, is often), I’m toggling between Instagram, Bluesky, and X (yes, still). Were I a well-adjusted person, I would close my laptop at 6 pm and practice piano or knitting or, hell, poker—literally any hobby that allows me to detox from the many species of brainworms I contract online.

I am not, however, a well-adjusted person, and I fear it’s too late to become one. So instead of knitting, I have Vertex.

Vertex is the New York Times game you’ve probably never heard of and almost certainly never played. The crossword, Spelling Bee, Wordle, and Connections are household names, and colossal moneymakers. Vertex, meanwhile, was relegated to a third of a sentence in a recent story about how the Times became the undisputed king of online brain teasers. “A version of connect the dots” was the writer’s perfunctory mention.

It’s not an inaccurate description, exactly, but it is so brusque as to erase all of the glorious, soothing, addictive qualities that make Vertex the best place online. The tagline in the Times app isn’t any better: “Trace Triangles.” The first time I played, it was because I clicked accidentally.

What Vertex actually does is slowly reveal beauty. The game starts with a few hundred tiny circles, each with a number inside, and a cryptic title on top. The number indicates how many lines radiate from that point, each connecting to the corresponding number of other points. When you complete a triangle, drawing the three connecting lines with your finger, it fills with color.

The real shot of dopamine, though—and the thing that separates the game from connect the dots and adult coloring books—doesn’t come until the end. If you play Vertex on mobile, which I do, drawing the lines requires zooming in so far that you can see only a tiny fraction of the whole at any given moment, meaning you have no idea what you’re drawing. But three or four hundred triangles later? Suddenly, the perspective pulls back and you see the fruit of your labor: a box of mac and cheese, a cowboy, a banana split, or another tiny delight.

My favorite recent picture was a blobfish, under the heading “Oozing in the Water.” It was various shades of pink and purple, with a giant nose, mopey eyes, and a frown, but it made me grin. I admired its lifestyle, just chilling near the ocean floor and eating whatever passes by so it doesn’t need to waste energy moving. After a long day online, it seemed pretty aspirational.

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