It shouldn’t be funny. It’s the most obvious of gags. Yet here we are, watching a large, steaming turd being sketched as a pictorial clue to the casino game Craps and I, admittedly, am in stitches.
Perhaps it’s the spontaneous, yet unanimous five-star ratings everyone awards the picture. The clincher may well have been one observer’s perfectly timed message of "very artistic." Or it could just be that a lump of poo is being drawn on my screen from 3000 miles away.
I’m playing Depict, and it’s the most unexpectedly brilliant iPhone experience I’ve had all year.
Looking a little drawn
It’s the simplest of concepts: draw a picture based on a word, so that other players can guess what it is. You could liken it to Pictionary or charades – it’s the exact same principle. Yet, Depict’s execution is so vibrant, it almost feels new.
For one thing, your opponents are often located on the other side of the world, represented only by a scruffily sketched avatar at the top of the screen. That’s right – Depict is a real-time multiplayer game on iPhone and it works beautifully.
Part of that is down to an excellent scoring system, which ensures that play is fair and progressive. As the drawer, you get points for having your picture guessed. As the guesser, you get points for guessing correctly from a multiple choice menu, with greater rewards for guessing quickly.
The rudimentary drawing system is perfect, too, allowing just enough scope for expression to handle most of the clues. For others, you may need to think creatively – rendering wool by scrawling a sheep, for example.
Far from sketchy
Most of the issues I had with the game turned out to be with the people playing the game. For example, an American fellow thought that an apt way to represent South America was to draw a downwards-pointing arrow. As Australia is globally referred to as "down under," I understandably got this wrong.
There was also the experience of having my avatar vetoed for being obscene (it was just a man with a big nose), whereas another player’s crude sexual boast remained uncontested.
As for the game itself, I’m struggling to find anything to fault. It’s annoying that your guessing streak (one of many awards and achievements) gets broken simply because another player dilly-dallies over their drawing.
The only other question mark hanging over Depict is its longevity. How long will online Pictionary – no matter how brilliant – remain fresh? Is it merely a novelty app? All I know is that Makeshift Games has managed to create an ambitious, social, open ended experience out of a game your Gran plays.
Draw your own conclusions.