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GD Star RatingiDixit,
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iDixit, released way back in 2011, is the adaptation of the classic party game that has, in many ways, become a staple of the casual market. There’s barely a gamer I know who doesn’t have a copy of Dixit lying around somewhere or hasn’t played the game, and for good reason. It’s fun, can be played fairly quickly, and lends itself well to a fun night of drinking and board games as a starter to get people comfortable. The mobile version does as much as possible to stack up to the original, but does the increased technological barrier improve upon the original? Read on to find out.
iDixit follows the original game’s rules practically verbatim. Dixit is a game of storytelling and of giving subtle clues. Players are given cards with lavish illustrations with one player being assigned the role of storyteller. The storyteller is responsible for giving players a single clue that pertains to their card. It might be ‘Theater’ or ‘Harry Potter’, or it could simply be a sound. The other players then choose their own cards that they think matches the storyteller’s theme. A secret voting round begins in which each player picks which card they believe best matches (players cannot vote for their own card.) The storyteller gets no points if no one votes for their card or if all players vote for their card.
This balance immediately leads to descriptive mind games where the storyteller has to dig deep to figure out a way to secure a middling number of votes. They don’t want to be too obscure, but they also don’t want to be too obvious. In many ways, the role of storyteller in iDixit is similar to telling a story in real life; just as there must be a balance of drama and action to keep people enthralled, so there must be a balance between the obvious and the invisible that can secure enough votes to win.
The gameplay simple enough, and is actually improved by the digital aspect over the physical aspect. Secret voting is much easier with iPhones, removing any kind of physical clues that one might get from seeing cards be shuffled around. This is very much a live game, there will be yelling and attempts to trick players between rounds of voting. As I said, mind games are extremely important in iDixit, you will want to instill doubt or overconfidence as they suit you. In that way it evokes the same feeling as a great game of Mafia or Werewolf, you begin to question statements, build up a very personal meta game, and from there you go on to have a tremendous amount of fun.
Dixit itself is a fairly simple game in terms of components, and this port does a great job of showing off the main selling point of the game – its art. Art is the linchpin of Dixit, and it’s good that the developers realized this. More often than not you’ll be treated to full size art spreads as you make your decision, with only unobtrusive menu elements when the time comes to cast your vote. A few extra bells complement the core game experience, including a full tutorial for new players. It’s not something they needed to add, but the developers felt that it’d be nice for newbies to be able to play through without the immediate stress of going up against more experienced, and you might even say, deceitful players.
I will hand it to the developers, they also did an excellent job of bridging the technology gap in iDixit. A huge part of the physical game involves giving players audio clues. This isn’t limited to purely words, though most people just use a phrase. Intonation sometimes matters, and play groups have all manner of tricks up their sleeves to misdirect players and make them choose incorrectly. In local wifi mode this is easy enough, you simply play the game as you normally would and your iPhones act more as intermediaries. When playing around with friends, it works perfectly; though, again, the fact that you need multiple phones to play can be something of a let down. Anyone in the group who doesn’t have an iPhone is immediately excluded, which, while not really a slight against the game itself, does represent a barrier to entry.
The real innovation comes from online play. Rather than sacrifice the intuitive, vocal nature of Dixit, iDixit has given the players options to to actually record a short audio clip and have it play as the clue for players. It’s actually an amazingly smart way of dealing with the problem of having online matchmaking in a game that’s inherently about talking to people. There’s the obvious risk of players trolling each other, spouting profanity and the like, but that’s more on the players than on the developers. Most people who actually want to play iDixit are probably going to try and be somewhat serious about it.
Dixit is a modern classic, and iDixit follows along in that same tradition. While you might not be able to have as much fun if your friends don’t all have Apple-related devices to play with you, a robust online play feature partially makes up for that by emulating the core experience as much as can be done. Dixit is a fun game that’s supposed to leave you with a smile, win or lose, and it’s nice to see that iDixit was able to capture that magic.
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- Gorgeous art that's true to the original
- Innovative online play functionality
- Some improvements over the physical version
- No pass-n-play functionality
- Features are somewhat limited