Once resigned to The Jackbox Party Pack (which appeared on Nintendo Switch back in 2017), the co-operative party game that is Drawful returns with a solo outing that’s just as silly and throwaway as the original version. And while it’s a no-go for solo players, those looking for some couchplay tomfoolery need look no further.
And when we say you’ll need friends, we mean it, and flesh and blood ones at that. Rather than relying on your Joy-Cons or a Pro Controller, Drawful 2 is very much a multi-device affair. You’ll use your controllers to briefly navigate the menus, but most of your interaction with this game will actually come from your smartphone or tablet. Originally released in 2016, this is an interactive experience with local multiplayer and Twitch interaction in mind so it’s both an ideal fit for Switch and a poor one.
Once you log into the game you’ll be given two options, ‘Play Drawful’ and ‘Make your own’. The former is the easiest to jump into and creates a room on the Jackbox servers. Your room will generate a special code, which you and the other players will need to use by going to jackbox.tv. You don’t have to sign up to anything or even download an app, you just have to use the room code, enter your name and draw a crude avatar. Your character will then appear on your TV/Switch, and when you have enough players (you need a minimum of three) the games can begin.
Each player is given a phrase or set of words which they then need to draw on their smart device. The image will then appear on-screen and it’s up to you to guess what your friend’s terrible artistic contribution is attempting to convey. So far, so Pictionary. As a concept it’s hardly groundbreaking, but it’s simple enough for pretty much anyone can pick up and enjoy. Although we will note the need for a smartphone or tablet does make this a little awkward for family play if there aren’t enough devices in your house for everyone to use (not all of us are rolling in smart devices).
At the end of each turn, the (usually) badly drawn image is displayed with everyone’s answers, the original prompt and a set of random ones, and it’s up to all the other players to guess which prompt led to the abomination on your screen. Guessing the right prompt nets you some points, while including some subtle yet wrong alternatives offers a great way to bamboozle other players on top. With games taking around ten minutes for so to play, it also offers a quick and easy way for up to eight players to link up.
The other option is ‘Make your own’ and here you’ll have a lot more room to customise the experience to your own tastes. In this mode you can create ‘episodes’ which enable you to write and include your own prompts. You can have a lot of fun here, especially if you want to get really specific (or devilishly obtuse) for your friends or random players you encounter in a Twitch stream. You can then choose to publish your episode so other uses can access it (via another randomly-generated code). Again, the premise doesn’t change, but the specificity of the prompts can make for a really fun round as you try and draw/guess your way to victory.
There are some nice extra touches that have been added in time for the Nintendo Switch version, such as the ability to share GIFs of your bad sketches on social media. Although we would say the 'extra' colour you're offered to draw with is hardly something that's going to get punters flying to purchase it from the eShop, but it certainly helps add a little more variety to your drawings. You can also censor certain prompts, set up family friendly settings and utilise an audience feature on Twitch that supports up to 10,000 viewers interacting with your game via a stream.
Those streaming-friendly additions are all way and good, but they don't really benefit a console that doesn't natively support streaming. If you have a capture card to hand then linking up to your Twitch account won't be a problem, but those of you without such hardware will be left to experience Drawful 2 either through Jackbox's own servers (via jackbox.tv) or purely as a local multiplayer experience. And while it's fun for a time, its perquisite for additional devices and a real lack of support for the Joy-Cons bar moving through a handful of menus makes this an odd fit for Switch.
As part of The Jackbox Party Pack, Drawful offered a brief yet silly way to have fun with friends, but its no-frills concept, the sheer lack of support for online multiplayer (especially with the lack of native streaming support Switch users have to contend with) and the hefty £8 asking price and Drawful 2 becomes a tough sell at best. However, if you’re really desperate for a couchplay alternative, this one might just scratch that party game itch.