The first Drawful had a simple concept: players draw a picture, and others guess what it is. Drawful 2 takes the original’s basic premise and makes small, but effective, improvements to the addictive formula. The result is a fun party game, though it is limited depending on your group size.
If you’ve ever played any of the Jackbox Party Pack series, then you may be familiar with this game’s control scheme. As opposed to standard controllers, all actions are performed directly on the players’ mobile devices, tablets or computers, which are connected to servers online. After everyone joins the host’s game and draws an avatar for themselves, the fun begins. In each round, players draw a picture based on a prompt. There are a wide range of prompts, from the concrete “really long receipt” to the abstract “brain overload.” One player’s drawing is then featured on the TV, and others type in what they think that work of art represents. After a set amount of time, each player’s guess appears on screen along with the original prompt. Then, everyone privately chooses what they think the real prompt is. Finally, points are awarded to players who guessed correctly. This sequence repeats for everyone’s drawing.
Several factors contribute to make this gameplay loop entertaining. First, the scoring system is well-thought-out. Every player who successfully chooses the featured artist’s original prompt receives a full 1,000 points for that round. In turn, the artist gains 1,000 points for each person that chose correctly. This encourages players to draw as closely to their prompt as possible, effectively making a Pictionary-like game without the need for teams. On the other hand, each incorrect choice awards 500 points to the player who devised that fake prompt, adding an element of deception to the game. This trickery makes the game livelier, with friends falling into each other’s traps.
Games are often more memorable when the drawings are hard to decipher. Luckily, Drawful 2’s prompts are typically ridiculous or difficult to conceptualize; for example, “coffin full of donuts,” “glass pants,” and “unlucky in love.” These intentionally strange prompts lead to humorous drawings from people who have no clue how to represent it. Additionally, there is no eraser, so any mistakes you make will be forever etched in your sketch. Unfortunately, the flaw with this freeform system is that you may sometimes be in situations where two answers are very similar. For instance, it would be difficult to choose between “island in the sky” and “sky island.”
Of course, with party games, it’s not just about winning. Hilarious drawings and guesses go a long way in making this a worthwhile experience. The freedom to draw and write anything you want gives each individual play session its unique charm. If you particularly like someone’s answer (no matter how fake it is), you can give them a “like.” This awards no actual points and acts as little more than a bonus award. If you wished, you could simply provide the most laughter-inducing guesses for fun. Regardless of how you play, the game’s entertainment value depends on you and your friends. Drawful 2 supports up to eight players locally, but it’s usually more entertaining with a larger number of people. While the minimum of three players can still be fun, the lower number of prompts can make games too easy or dull.
For those who have played the original Drawful, there are only a few new features. The less compelling addition is drawing with two colors – not a rainbow of colors – just two. While it’s a nice thought, it won’t affect your drawings much and is an otherwise forgettable feature. More interesting is the ability to make custom episodes with your own prompts, leading to a more personalized experience. You can host games filled with tailor-made content, such as licensed material, inside jokes, and prompts that would never get past the ESRB.
It might be difficult to frequently host large gatherings for this game, but Drawful 2 compensates by allowing players to stream their games via Twitch. This works effectively since viewers don’t need to own the game. They merely need to connect with their device to play along. There are some helpful accessibility options that allow the host to censor content, ban troublesome people, and increase time limits to account for lag. As a solution for large stream viewerships, an audience of up to 10,000 can participate by voting on answers for fun, so anyone can feel like they’re part of the game. There is high replay value if you are able to host many parties or stream frequently. However, if you don’t have a party of at least three and aren’t streaming online, there’s a more limited appeal.
Drawful 2 doesn’t feature many unique graphics, since the point is that you provide the art, but cartoonish animations of pencils crawling like worms and cat paws hitting remote controls give the game a playful doodle aesthetic. The lounge music is goofy but easy to listen to. Sound effects consisting of burps, groans, and flatulent noises contribute to its silly mood. Finally, a snarky, playful announcer does her best to keep players entertained during long waiting periods.
Drawful 2 is a solid party game with broad appeal and the potential to create hilarious memories with friends. A clever scoring system coupled with the excitement of deceiving others makes the game more interesting than your typical game of Pictionary. Internet-ready devices allow anyone to play, even stream viewers from across the country. However, the game has severely limited functionality if you don’t have big parties or stream online. For those with the original Drawful, the only meaningful addition to this entry are the custom prompts. Most important to consider is that mileage varies, depending on your friends and their sense of humor. If you’ve got a great group ready to have fun, then Drawful 2 will keep you entertained for hours on end.
Note: A review copy was used for this article. This review was originally written on DarkStation in July 2016.