Look, I’m not going to beat around the bush here: Jackbox Games has been making great party games for years, and Drawful 2 is no different. If you enjoy laughing until you cry and/or urinate, you should probably pick up this game. That being said, the Drawful sequel isn’t quite for everyone. It’s a wildly zany and random game that lacks some logical progression, which will bother select players. But for most, Drawful 2 will fit in nicely next to the likes of Quiplash and Fibbage.
The original Drawful premiered in the first Jackbox Party Pack back in 2014. Though not as popular as Fibbage and the flagship You Don’t Know Jack, the game garnered a following by fans. The rapid growth of Twitch and other various streaming services, along with the innovative approach of using smartphones as controllers, helped popularize the entire pack. The second Party Pack only built upon these concepts.
Drawful 2 is a sequel in every sense of the word. The Jackbox team have clearly watched how people play their games, and have implemented a slew of new features. For those who may not know, Drawful 2 is similar to Pictionary. Up to 8 players log into Jackbox.tv with a “room code.” After doodling a picture of yourself, players are given prompts to draw. The goal is to get as many other players as possible to guess what you drew. If you weren’t the one to draw the picture, your goal is to put in a fake answer and attempt to trick other guessers.
One of the first new features players will notice is the ability to use two colors. It’s a welcome addition. Using two colors allows players to draw more dynamic images and distinguish landscapes from people and objects. It’s a small addition, but it goes a long way. They’ve also implemented a censorship option for internet streamers (block certain people and answers) and a family friendly option for parents. All ways to make the game more accessible to its varied audiences.
Arguably the best new feature is the ability to make and play your own games. User generated content (a la Fibbage and Quiplash) has become a fan-favorite feature in Jackbox games, and it fits well here. Whole teams of players can openly or blindly enter in their own prompts for a custom made game. This makes for hilarious scenarios where friends can draw each other, doodle dirty things, and even throw in inside jokes such as “mouf hugs” (don’t ask).
As I mentioned, a censorship option for streamers has been added, but Jackbox Games has gone all out in adding features for online gamers. Direct Twitch integration has been added, extended timers have been added (lag can be a problem), and you can now have up to 10,000 people online play along and vote for the funniest answers. The development team have discovered how to design games that are the perfect streaming machines.
If you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan of this game. But not everyone is. As this is a party game, I pulled a group of willing volunteers in (read: slightly intoxicated friends) to test it out with me. I discovered that some players loved the game for its zaniness, randomness, and raw hilarity. Those players, myself included, rarely paid any attention to scores or winning until the very end of the game. But some players, those who tend to love board and competitive games, wanted to win. When pictures made no sense or answers were too similar or obscure, they got frustrated. The sheer randomness of the prompts, whether from Jackbox or other players, put off some of the gamers.
I had a long discussion with some of the players following our session. Those who struggled with the experience wanted things like an eraser to fix drawings and themes to sessions so prompts and answers made more sense. It’s an interesting viewpoint. Drawing with your finger on a smartphone never quite produces the picture you want, and there’s no denying that there are numerous times where things make little sense and answer to little logic.
But, in my opinion, those are the things that make Drawful 2 so much fun. This is not a competitive game. If I were hosting a gaming tournament, this game would never even be considered as an option. But for those friends hanging out on a holiday, the families with visiting relatives, the students shoved into cramped dorm rooms, and the streamers looking for easy ways to connect with an audience, Drawful 2 is a riotous way to enjoy the company of those around you.
And that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? I recently spoke with Arnie Niekamp, director of Drawful 2, in an interview and he had this to say regarding their games:
“…[i]f you take everything away, what we really wanted was people in the room to really–and this sounds negative–but to really be yelling at each other, and to really be talking to each other a lot…More of, like, even though these people have their phones in their hands, are there weird and funny social interactions that people can have in the room with that?”
Every time I have friends or family over, the Jackbox games almost always make their way out. These games are light-hearted, silly, and always good for a laugh. But most of all, they help us connect with each other in new ways, whether it’s the friend next to you or the Twitch fan across the world. Not every game will appeal to everyone’s approach to gaming, and that’s ok. Thankfully, an entire set of new Jackbox Games will come out this fall. Until then, Drawful 2 is a successful expansion on the original in almost every way, and is a welcome addition to the Jackbox Games library.
A PS4 review code for Drawful 2 was provided by Jackbox Games for the purpose of this review