June 1, 2006

Review: Interact toGo

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Overview
Interact toGo is produced by Interact Games Ltd which has released a series of games with the goal of uniting intra office cultures (aka team building). Interact toGo extends the franchise by opening up audience to groups of friends and family.

The Company Line: Interact toGo is a card game that is fun, thought-provoking and entertaining. The purpose is to predict your opponent’s answer and the reason WHY behind it. That’s where the real fun begins!

Your opponent is your spouse, partner, neighbor or friend! Find out something new or different about the people in your life, those you think you know well and those you just met. Build relationships, value other’s perspectives and stimulate interesting dialogue while gaining points along the way.

The Gameplay
Playing a round of toGo is quite simple. A player picks a card off the top of the deck and reads the question aloud. The card also supplies multiple choice answers, which are also read aloud. The Question Reader selects an answer in secret, and jots down a description of "why" he/she chose the answer. It's the job of the other players to guess which answer the Question Reader chose (by writing it down), and also to guess the answer to the "why?" portion of the question. Then, everyone's responses are revealed, and 1 point is awarded to players with the correct answer to the multiple choice question, and 1 more point is awarded to players who correctly guessed "why".

Critique
The design is as about as streamlined as you can get, but let's dive into the nitty gritty details of the game's execution.

Interact toGo ships with 100 questions cards. The questions themselves are somewhat diverse in subject matter, but they all fit the same cookie cutter template - the players select their favorite multiple choice answers from a list of "what if" scenarios. "If I could be a constant on a game show, which would I chose, and why?", "If I could travel back in time and meet a historical figure, would would I chose, and why?" These aren't exactly the deepest questions, so if you're familiar with the folks you're playing with then it isn't difficult to deduce their answer (the "why" follow-up question still might be a challenge, however). The game also lacks a strong set of moral questions, which is a surprise since "family" is one of the intended audiences listed on the front of the box.

The Interact toGo website promises laugh-out-loud gameplay, but the questions themselves aren't exceedingly funny. The title also lacks an obvious game-mechanic that would provide humor. All of the hilarious moments stem from the "why" portion of the question, so it falls on the players' shoulders to tickle each other's funny bone. This usually occurs the moment a question that was intended for a woman falls into the lap of a man, or vice versa, or when a player doesn't even try to answer the "why" part of a question, but instead creates a completely outlandish response. That's when the fun really starts.

Finally, the act of writing the "why" to every answer provides some very unique, custom-tailored, and yes - potentially humorous responses. But in our overly-critical ways we found that it can simply take too long, and it slows down the pace of the game a bit too much . If there were more humorous or biting questions in the game then the downtime wouldn't be such a bad thing, but in the end the game's pace and content combine to slow down the game a bit too much. This is especially true when Interact toGo is compared against other shallower, but faster-paced titles in the party-quiz genre (Apples to Apples).


Conclusion
Interact toGo provides an unparalleled level of personal-depth to the social trivia experience. This is the game's major strength (and the seemingly the flaghship design decision that inspired the game). The potential for humor is there, but it often comes in sharp spikes harbored between longer lulls. The game simply isn't always funny or entertaining enough to compensate for the long down-time between rounds.

Also, we would have liked to have seen a bit more edge to the questions - perhaps circumstances where the player is forced to select the lesser of two evils, or questions that tested the players' morales. The addition of a few deeper questions cards might have generated additional hooks for humor which otherwise don't exist. Humor is key here because it more effectively obscures the game's slower pace while still stressing the title's strength for interpersonal-discovery.

In a world of passive social entertainment where TVs blast their waves through the living room, over cell phones, and in the back seats of minivans, the interpersonal design behind Interact toGo is a breath of fresh air. But in the end we liked the groundwork of ideas more than the actual execution. People who enjoy games in the social trivia genre will most likely enjoy the experience of this game, but the title isn't a sure-fire winner for everyone.

Interact toGo is available for purchase from the game's official website.

3 stars out of 5 Our Critical Raiting System

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Posted by Critical Gamers Staff at June 1, 2006 1:21 PM

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