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Draw Something
by Lee Weedall on Sunday 1st Apr 2012

If a picture paints a thousand words...

It is a truism that mobile gaming offers something different to standard gaming. It is another truism to say the same thing about social gaming, or "casual" gaming as the more narrow-minded would call it. There are genuine reasons why each strain has its fans, and why each strain has its successes. It was only really a matter of time before somebody put the two hands together.

Draw Something is the result of this applause. A delightful, insightful, marriage of psychology and comedy that takes the simplest of concepts, the titular act of drawing something, and turns it into an unmissably fun experience. I draw, you guess, and then we turn it around. It sounds dull in theory, but in practice it is hilarity on an LCD screen. An addictive hilarity, at that.

Step 1 in forming addiction comes from linking the game to your Facebook account. This means that you can see at a glance who else has the game, and even allows you to pick your favourites to challenge. People you know better tend to make better partners than those you don't really talk to.

Step 2 is in the way that your partners drawing are revealed. Rather than just showing the completed picture, you witness the entire creation process. This extends to any mistakes that your partner may erase, and often is more amusing than anything they deem worthy of presenting. The same applies to the guessing process, too, so I get to witness my friend trying ASTRIX, ASTIRIX, and even ASTRY before giving up and hitting the 'pass' button. (Which reminds me, I need to slap that fool next time I see him...) 

Step 3 is in the coin system. The game starts by giving you 3 words to choose from, but giving each a difficulty rating that rewards the hardest word. Easy words like CAT score 1 coin, whereas LADYGAGA would earn you and your partner 3 coins for a correct guess. These coins are used to buy additional colours with which to draw, and bombs with which to change the potential word choices, or to remove incorrect letters from the pool when guessing. (This comes in handy when it is a 3-letter word and you have to work out which 3 of the 12 the vague blob on your screen is meant to be.)

Naturally, there is a temptation to cheat and just write the word on the screen. There is nothing in place to stop this from happening, and you won't be punished. (By extension, you are also unable to win or lose. "Score" is merely a record of how many correct guesses are in the current streak, but even this caps out at 99.) There is little point to this approach, though, since the vast majority of the fun comes from challenging yourself to draw concepts and people that you thought you were incapable of. My own artistic skills lay at something approximating a pre-school level, and yet I have successfully managed to convey RIHANNA, TITANIC, and even on one notable occasion POSH.

Equally, there is no small amount of enjoyment to be garnered from playing with a friend who approaches the game who is on a similar wavelength to your own. The moment of inspiration when you have been sitting baffled at something for 2 minutes, then suddenly realise what in-joke your partner used, is the kind that can only be realised through personal connection. Videogames rarely reach these places.

Essentially, Draw Something is not a videogame in the truest sense of the word. It is a parlour game, albeit one that is only possible due to the technology it is hosted upon. Being turn-based, too, plays a large part in making this such a wonderful experience, because you don't need to set time aside when you are both ready. Your turn is stored, and sent to your partner when they want to receive it. Asynchronous gameplay that fits into YOUR schedule, with no time commitment required.

This all leads to a game that utilises a system akin to karma. The fun that you get out is equivalent to the fun that you put in, multiplied by 2. Pairing up with people who possess superior artistic ability is great, but watching people struggle is even better. Watching people struggle to guess YOUR struggles is even betterer! It is a title best approached as a pastime instead of thought of as a game, and for this reason it is impossible to score. However, if you know at least one other person who owns a device capable of playing this game, and the odds are that you do, then you should join in the fun as soon as you possibly can.

metacritic

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  • Sound: 1
  • Graphics: 1
  • Gameplay: 10
  • Longevity: 10

10

Perfect


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