Last week, Ravensburger Digital released their latest conversion. This is Whoowasit, a fun little quirky game that is designed for children, but has enough visuals and style that even adults might enjoy a few attempts. It is the recipient of the 2008 Kinderspiel des Jahres Winner, the Disney FamilyFun Toy of the Year 2011, the Creative Child Magazine Game of the Year 2011, and the The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval 2011. If that doesn’t indicate it’s family-friendly orientation, nothing will.
Whoowasit was undoubtedly well positioned for conversion, in that it was the third electronic game made by Knizia, produced through Ravensburger. Having discovered this, a lot of things about the game itself began to make sense as there are interactive elements that couldn’t happen easily in a standard board game.
Whoowasit? is a co-operative game for up to four players. It’s fundamental premise is a game of logic and deduction, as you attempt to discern which chest, out of ten possible choices, contains a magical ring before the time runs out. To achieve this, the children navigate the castle rooms and question a variety of animals for clues. Each animal has a pre-determined preference of food types, which can change from game to game, and the players must locate these foods and provide them as offerings to the animals for their clue. Since you only have capacity for two types of food at any given time, you have to manage your resources; though you can swap food out in the kitchen.
There is a time-limit, which indicates the arrival of the evil wizard and game defeat; so you have to figure out the answer before then. There is also a ghost that progresses throughout the castle in a predetermined pathway, which blocks players from entering rooms, and shunts players into the starting room if the ghost lands on them. There is also a raven that may steal your food, requiring players to fetch it. Assistance can be gained from one of four magical effects in the four corner rooms, but you have to find the hidden switch to unlock the doors to two of them first; they include assistance from the fairy, being able to wind back the clock, a secret passage to random place in the castle, and being able to unlock certain doors to allow for greater movement in the castle.
You will have to appreciate this game for what it is, a family game focused on engaging children. This isn’t a mark against the game, but just an acknowledgement of its primary audience. I suspect that for most adults who come across this game in their own right, it will be a passing enjoyment for a game or two, but will quickly lose replay value. The game is just too saccharine for other players. However, if you are a family and wanting to introduce them to game, this is probably your first (or maybe) second game to expose them to. The production values are just amazing, voice acting, animations, and carefully rendered artwork.
The voice acting is probably the capstone of this game, it’s quite clever to use audio learning to facilitate the means of learning the game. Not that I wouldn’t like to encourage more reading, but I think an audio-visual medium will draw a broader audience in. They’ve also enabled the configuration of multiplayer to be variable, whether you wish to have the map rotate to each player or whether you assume both players are on the same side.
My only fault for the game was that even from reading the instructions, I was not clear on objectives and means of playing. I could only get that knowledge by listening to the game, it prevented me from playing it in any environment where I couldn’t have noise. Headphones are an option, but then so too are subtitles.
8/10: While I acknowledge most of the audience here will not derive enjoyment of the game, if you adequately appreciate who its primary audience are, then you will recognise that this is a winner.Whoowasit?,