Developer: Brinkbit/Bryan Bamford
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

If one has ever played Cards Against Humanity (the R-rated cousin of the more family friendly Apples to Apples) then they already know the gist of Playing Favorites. A card with a fill-in-the-blank statement or phrase is played each round with players taking turns playing red cards from their hands to try and complete the most amusing sentence. Votes are tallied for each round and whomever has the most points at the end of several rounds wins.

Playing FavoritesPlaying FavoritesPlaying Favorites differs from the basic CAH format in a few areas. Most notably, the content is nowhere near as potentially embarrassing to play around one’s mother or, say, the Pope. Instead, it leans more heavily on pop culture and political references. It also replaces the idea of one player serving as each round’s judge, instead allowing players to vote on one another’s submissions, with a winner derived by total votes received. The most major departure is that Playing Favorites introduces yellow modifier cards, allowing players the ability to tweak a response by layering other cards on top. For example, the round’s card could be “[BLANK]: all the cool kids are doing it.” Now I could play “worshiping a celebrity” there, but dropping one particular yellow card onto it changes my response into “worshiping a decomposing celebrity.”

As players progress, they unlock the ability to do things like play two red cards per response by using linking conjunctions. This seems neat in theory, but more often than not it will lead to some misguided attempts to brute force utter nonsense as humor. Take this gem, for instance. The relatively innocuous “We’d all be better off if Congress could just quit [BLANK] and do their jobs” was answered with the following.

“We’d all be better off if Congress could just quit punching Little Bobby’s infant Furbies on Oprah’s book club to win the console war and do their jobs.”

Playing FavoritesPlaying FavoritesYeah, I’m not kidding. A real live human being blew five cards on that nonsensical car wreck. And at least one player will do this. Every single game. Brevity is the soul of wit, people.

Playing Favorites also operates as a CCG/TCG of sorts, with booster packs being available for coins that can be earned in-game or purchased. Thankfully it doesn’t seem too difficult to gather currency, as winning a game earned me enough for a booster each time.

There were a few questionable design choices made here. The game supports three different speeds – Party (10 minute max turns), Standard (1 day), and Casual (3 days) – but only Standard allows online play with strangers. It also suffers from a fair bit of chugging. I was admittedly reviewing on older hardware, but for a text-based game without flashy graphics there’s no excuse at all for straining processors.

With a low barrier for entry, Playing Favorites could certainly provide some amusement for a group of friends waiting in a long line or out for a night of drinks. Just make sure the nonsense card-comboing jerk gets stuck buying the next round.

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