You have to wonder about the origins of the humble paper and pencil classic, Hangman. Did it originate in a dank dungeon, where some poor unfortunate was psychologically tortured with the task of guessing the correct answer to a word game against the pace of gallows construction? Probably not, but it would make for a great legend if it was true.
In the mobile space, Digital Chocolate's Café series of connected casual titles may not be legendary either, but they are certainly starting to build themselves something of a reputation, with the latest, Cafe Hangman, doing nothing to damage it.
For the uninitiated, the Café series encapsulates a whole bushel of releases, all of which are casual variations on one core concept: connected mobile gaming. You start with a simple avatar and a cafe, which through gaining experience in the game (in this case Hangman) you can spruce up with trophies and new avatar clothes until your establishment is enticing enough for other players to visit and play in.
Seeing as Digital Chocolate got this aspect of the series right the first time round, Cafe Hangman is a predictably solid and polished affair. You could argue that Hangman is a game that neither lends itself to multiplayer gaming, nor especially needs a mobile outing such is its simplicity. Even without the connected element, however, Cafe Hangman is fun, challenging and charmingly presented.
The categories on offer, which are unlocked in turn, are Music, Movies, TV, Sport and then Random. Score-wise, there are bonus points awarded for guessing consecutive letters correctly and special awards given if you manage to guess a word straight away or in very few guesses.
There are over 1,000 words to guess, meaning that by the time you have got even half way through the game will have justified its purchase with considerable play time. Add to that all of the connected extras and you have a surprisingly compelling package hewn from what many might consider a slightly bland core game.
As mentioned, the presentation is top-notch, with lined paper, pencil animations and eraser sound effects all bringing the Hangman aspect strongly into focus in among Digital Chocolate's homogenous Café template.
There is one irksome flaw. If you fail to guess a word correctly, you're given the correct answer, which is all well and good. But when you try the category again, rather than being given a different word to guess you're presented with the word that was just revealed to you on your failed attempt, making the subsequent round very easy. A bit of a glaring screw up, but not one that particularly spoils the overall game.
Similarly, with Digital Chocolate's seemingly endless supply of casual variations of the Café formula, there is the feeling that some of the games would be better justified as a combined package rather than a standalone release and Cafe Hangman can count itself among that number.
But that doesn't mean that this isn't a solid addition to DChoc's accomplished series. It isn't going to blow you away, it isn't going to entertain you for months but it is a meat and potatoes mobile game, and as such savours of dependability and satisfaction.