App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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The first thing that you should probably know about Out of the Loop is you need other people to play it, and by that I mean 3-9 people in the same room passing around a single phone or tablet. You see, it’s not a game that works as an online experience because the whole game revolves around deceiving the people sitting around you. Out of the Loop takes the delightfully simple concept of lying to your friends and finds ways to make it more fun than it sounds, provided you have people to play with.
What are you talking about?
In Out of the Loop, players ask and answer questions about a secret word without saying what that secret word is. They do this because one person in the group is--quite literally--out of the loop. The goal of the players that know the secret word is to correctly guess who doesn't know the word, while the imposter player wants to fool everyone around them and eventually guess the secret word correctly.
Playing Out of the Loop couldn’t be easier. Everyone plays on one device by entering their player names and then choosing a category. The app takes care of the rest. Player names pop up on screen and instruct players on how to reveal the secret word, who to pass the device to, and what questions to ask other players. At the end of a given round, more prompts pop up to allow players to vote on who is out of the loop, guess the secret word, and total points earned between rounds.
Silly, but structured
Out of the Loop would be a perfectly serviceable party game if that’s all there was to it, but what really elevates the game is its sense of structure. Every game of Out of the Loop takes place across five rounds, and scores are kept between those rounds to eventually crown someone a winner. It’s a really small addition to the game, but it helps keep people invested in playing it well.
Players can score big individually if they successfully hide the fact that they are out of the loop, but everyone else can win big if the group can correctly sniff them out. This forces players to balance how much they want to reveal about the secret word when answering questions. If they reveal too much, they could help someone who’s out of the loop gain a commanding lead, but if they don’t reveal enough, they could mislead other players into voting incorrectly and costing them points.
On top of Out of the Loop’s nice structure are a set of categories and questions that are surprisingly robust, detailed, and pretty funny. Have you ever thought of what kind of impromptu weapon a spy would make out of long johns? What about if the beach would be an easily defensible location to fight off zombies? Across several rounds of play, these questions and many others kept me and my friends entertained as we played round after round.
As fun as Out of the Loop is though, it isn’t quite a perfect experience. The first issue--of course--is that it requires you to have at least two other people around who want to play it with you. Beyond that, there are some unclear navigation issues that can confuse you if someone accidentally advances a question, sees a secret word they aren’t supposed to, or otherwise hits the screen erroneously. Thankfully, Out of the Loop handles these situations quite well; it’s just not exactly obvious that it does.
The last thing to note about Out of the Loop is that its free version feels more like a demo than a complete game. Without paying anything, players are limited to only a single category (Food), but can opt to pay $4.99 to unlock five other categories. Thankfully, playing with one category is enough to know if you want to pay for the full game, but anyone looking not to spend money on Out of the Loop may walk away from the experience disappointed.
The bottom line
Out of the Loop is a great party game that won’t be leaving my phone any time soon. What it may lack in navigation features, it more than makes up for with its unique gameplay, oddball questions, and competitive design. If you have any friends that like party or board games, make sure to pick up Out of the Loop. You won’t be disappointed.