Right off the bat, this may turn out to be the shortest review I’ve ever written. Although, I do like to ramble, so maybe my patented brand of nonsense gives me purchase to squeeze out hundreds more words than I reasonably should for this title. Either way, let’s jump right into the review-y bits, because that’s what we’re all here for, right?
When Jackbox Games announced Drawful 2 some months back, I was really pumped. Part of that pumpage was because they also announced the Jackbox Party Pack 3, but there was definite pump-inducing from Drawful 2 getting the nod as well (I mean, come on, these dudes graced my Best of 2015 list for Peter’s sake!!). There has not been 1 game released since Fibbage was so gracefully bestowed upon us that I have not fallen in love with from these guys. I have enjoyed You Don’t Know Jack for who knows how long before this new generation of consoles (nearly 2 decades, probably), but with these new offerings, the anti has been upped immensely. Varying degrees of party game fun abound and a super simple, yet highly accessible way to play has brought this series into more people’s hearts than I think anyone ever anticipated. And damn it, I’m so glad it did.
If you don’t know the premise of this particular series, I’ll set it up for you: you get a phrase at the start of the game (or round) and have to draw your interpretation of that in the allotted time. You want to be as good as you can with it, because if you are, and the other players are able to guess what you drew, you all receive points. However, those same players will put in their own brand of title phrase to trick the group into picking their fake answer. If they manage to bait someone to their choice, they receive the points, not you. It can be a hilarious time just from that aspect, but when you realize many of the phrases you have to attempt to draw out are funny scenarios in their own right, your brain (and funny bone) will get a work out just trying to come up with the best way to represent it to the rest of the players, and that isn’t always easy.
How you play these games isn’t with traditional controllers. For these, you actually use a smart device (phone, tablet, or PC) to input everything. You do need internet to play, so keep that in mind when you set out to buy this. However, because of this way to play, you can easily play with the max number of people without ever needing that many controllers, and at $60+ a pop these days, it can be super expensive if you needed them. And this also means you can play with others online with Twitch, the official streaming service of Xbox One. Once you get everyone together, whether in the same room or online, you all go to Jackbox.tv, enter the 4 digit room code, and away you go into hilarity.
It’s also worth noting that every aspect has a time limit, so you can’t sit there forever deliberating on what to do and where to go with the scene. You have to be quick with all aspects, or you will lose out on that round in one way or another. Perhaps the biggest factor of all of this is the most obvious one – your drawing skills. I can tell you right now, some of my best drawings wouldn’t rank on the world’s top 999 billion list, and that both hurts, and helps the game. Hurts, in that it’s not always easy to get someone to know what I drew, and helps, because once the (dr)awful artwork is revealed to all, the mocking, laughing, and utter confusion can lead to plenty of chuckles (and it usually does).
The recent releases have all been good games to stream and with each successive game, they’ve been better and better. Guess what? This one is no different. Not only does this allow longer times to choose and draw to account for streaming lag times, but it also allows the host to censor rude or inappropriate answers for the audience they are playing with (virtual and personally). You can also require someone be logged in to Twitch to play (the only service it works with), which can help weed out some riff raff.
There are other new additions as well here, and here are just a few of them: TWO (2) colors that you can now draw with!! Up to TEN THOUSAND (10,000) audience members can play along!! Oh, and some little thing called “Make Your Own” where you make your own game using your own created phrases to draw. And you can share that created game with the world via a code they would enter in their game. I doubt anyone would care about that…
BUT IF YOU DO, HERE’S ONE OF MINE: BFX-DDTZ
Please do let me know if you partook in my episode and how it went. I am genuinely interested to know how you all found it to be. I’m hoping fun!!
The sound design in this game is pretty sweet, too, from the muzak-ish themes, to the funny sound effects that play as buzzers, to the jokes and overall cadence of the female announcer (who I can’t remember the name of if she even ever gave it). There’s not one thing I can point to in this game, sound-wise, that doesn’t feel just right or as close to “perfect” for this kind of game as can be. This team always hits this portion of their games out of the park in my eyes.
Its kind of hard to review this game without you seeing it in action, because a lot of it is based on interaction with those you are playing with. I’m trying my best, here, so don’t yell at me!! If you play with fuddy-duddies, you’re probably not going to have a swell time. If you play with some folks who are down for whatever and enjoy this kind of good time, then you’re sure to have one, too. There’s a ton of content here, and even then, once you exhaust all the created stuff, you can then move on to your own made games. It can become a meta-game in and of itself were a group of real life friends to create an episode together. If you fancy online play, even more this game can live for a crazy amount of time (or until the next new hotness from these guys comes along).
So with all the love I have for this offering, I do have some nitpicks to drag around. I really wish we had an eraser. Yes, I know in their trailer they made the obvious (and funny) joke about this, but I still wish it were here. There must be a reason why they don’t include one on a gameplay level, and not that they can’t get it to work, right? Maybe in Drawful 3 this will be a new feature… *HINT, HINT* I also wish it were a little bit easier to draw with your fingers. Sometimes you can make weird lines that look like you colored outside of the spaces. I’m not sure how to explain it, honestly, but you’ll know it once you see – and do – it. This may just be a fact of life with the use of touch screens, but, it’s a concern nonetheless. Other than these issues, I can’t really find anything else to “complain” about, other than maybe having a 3rd round added to the game.
The Achievements here are not too difficult, and you could honestly “cheat” your way to most, if not all of them. If that’s how you choose to do it, be my guest, but I think it’s more fun to organically unlock everything rather than artificially setting it up to. There are 10 of them, and even though I doubt I will be able to achieve 10+ audience members in a game, or 50 likes in a game, I’m damn well going to try!! And you guys are more than welcome to help me out!!
As I said, if you can play with the right kind of people, ones who will try to have a good time and not suck the energy from the experience, I find it hard to believe you will not have a great time with Drawful 2 (or any other Jackbox Games offerings). This obvious includes yourself, because if you yourself are a bummer, you won’t have fun from the jump. I guess in the end, this game will offer you whatever you technically “want” from it, so go into it knowing that fact. If you’re still on the fence, definitely watch (and join) some streams of it. You’ll get the best idea from that. When I have family or friends over, this is a game I am very much looking forward to playing. When I want to have a laugh online, this is a game I will be jumping on with. My family isn’t really into video games at all, but they have a blast playing these games, because they transcend the typical “video game” mold. And honestly, my family and I don’t have a lot in common, so this is something I value very much when we can bust this out and forget any of our personal issues for a few hours of laughs. Have this become that olive branch for you and yours, or, just use it to further your enjoyment of one another’s company. Whatever the case, I truly believe you’ll have a drawfully good time with it. I’m sorry. I’ll leave now.
Drawful 2 is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Steam for $9.99, and coming to seemingly everything else soon (except the moon – for now…). A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
As a side note, one of the games that will be in The Jackbox Party Pack 3 will use answers from the community, so jump on this questionaire to join in the fun. And, you will enter to win prizes the more you answer. I know they’d love your info!!
And now, if you would like to see some of the latest drawings from me and the group I played with the other day, I direct you to these tweets. And, yes, when the game is over, you are able to tweet out some drawings to the masses. Check out my Twitter if you want to see more, or, obviously, the hashtag #Drawful2 if you don’t care to see anything I may have birthed unto the world. View discretion is advised.