Have you ever seen one of those back-of-magazine art school tests? The ones that provide simple line art of, say, a turtle and ask you to turn it into something more detailed by adding on top of it? That's how Draw 2 Survive feels at the moment. It has potential, but what's currently there needs to be drawn out and embellished.
Anyone who has played Kirby: Canvas Curse or Kirby and the Rainbow Curse/Paintbrush will immediately get the gist of Draw 2 Survive's only current mode: Survival. It's a single-player challenge to see how long a ball can be kept away from the edges of a rectangular arena by drawing guiding lines on the Wii U GamePad.
When a ball touches a line it will follow it along the direction it was drawn. Only so much ink can be laid down at a time, with a recharging meter showing just how much is left. With an enclosed playing field, this often leads to curving back and forth in a sort of juggling act as the ball gradually speeds up.
It's a simple concept, but surprisingly difficult to master. Just a bit of a curve can send a ball hurtling toward the edges, and quick reflexes are often key. If you're expecting 30-minutes bouts of back-and-forth ping-pong, think more like a minute a first. Although there can be a little bit of lag as soon as a bout starts, the GamePad feels responsive throughout.
The biggest hangup with Survival (and currently Draw 2 Survive as a whole) is that just about the entirety of the game has been described above. A small amount of variety has been added in the form of four different arenas to take on. Each has its own music and aesthetic, from classroom paper to an artistic forest, and the physics of the ball in each stage are slightly different. A favourite is a solar system backdrop that places the player in control of the little blue marble of Earth; after a while the other planets "turn on" and begin to affect the ball with their own gravities.
Unfortunately, while there is a small amount of draw in these tweaks, the overall activity still feels somewhat lacking in involvement. All arenas remain rectangular and relatively small, and there are no items or pickups of any kind to steer the ball toward. A best time seems the only reward for striving in Survival mode, and that might get tiring quickly for many players.
The themes of each stage are pretty neat, but the backgrounds in some could probably stand to be a bit crisper, especially when viewing on the GamePad. They're not horrendous, but the colour choices can sometimes make it a bit more demanding to pinpoint the ball.
Draw 2 Survive actually does appear to have plans for more in its future. The developer is responsive on its Miiverse page, and additional modes such as Local Multiplayer and a single-person Story Mode have been promised as future free additions. As it stands now, however, Draw 2 Survive does not offer much more than the occasional waster of a few minutes' time. What it could provide, however, might make it worth keeping an eye on for when its content crosses the finish line.