“F**k. Bastard. Shite.” – just a few of the words I angrily found myself screaming at my TV screen. Never before did I think I’d be shouting such rich language at a family-friendly card game, yet here I am. The more that I play it, the more I delve into the world of coloured cards and numbers, and the longer I spend chasing that all-important victory – the worse that I become.
Uno has turned me into a monster, and I regret nothing.
I’ve got to be honest, when I played this game for the first time, I wasn’t really expecting much. I mean, how interesting could a physical card game such as Uno possibly become in the translation to a video game? The answer: not very – but that’s not to say there isn’t fun to be had here. Actually, it’s the total opposite. Uno most certainly is fun. Great fun, in fact, and it’s the simplicity of the gameplay that makes this title such a joy to dive in and out of. I’m not going to explain the ins and outs of how the game is played, but for those who aren’t familiar with the concept, the aim of the game is to empty your hand of all your cards by placing down the appropriate colour/number of the card placed previous. Sounds simple, right? Well, you’re wrong.
Uno is ultimately a game about sabotage, and aside from focusing on getting rid of your own cards, players must also attempt to give their opponents a hard time. This is typically handled by either preventing them from playing their remaining cards, bluffing and trying to place certain cards (being careful not to take a punishment yourself), or by adding plenty more cards to opponent’s hands through the use of special cards that alter the state of play. It’s the latter tactic that is the most damaging, and games can become quite the brutal affair as dozens of new cards are thrown between opponents and players are distanced even further away from the clutches of victory. It’s always incredibly satisfying when you dish out the punishment to your opponents, but when you’re placed in the firing line, it’s stressful and incredibly frustrating to say the least – but that’s half of the fun.
Opponents really don’t hold back, and there will be many occasions over the course of play where they unleash some savage plays, and the cards begin to mount up. The AI is genuinely crafty, and as such, there’s a genuine sense of challenge throughout every game. Games can become rather drawn out as progress is frequently impeded upon, but when there’s several players that are within an inch of victory, the tension is high and the games become incredibly enjoyable (if not slightly tedious).
Not only offering solo matches that pit players against three other AI opponents, there is also the option to play 2v2 matches that pair you up with a friendly AI and take on two opponents. It’s a mode that brings a nice change, but, when playing with the friendly AI at least, can feel utterly maddening at times. Your partner can conduct baffling moves that counter what you’re trying to do, as well as not reacting appropriately to any helpful moves you might make for them. This problem is somewhat alleviated when you jump into the online multiplayer and are (hopefully) playing alongside someone with smarts, but the chat options are baffling and restrict communication to only those on your friends list – a feature that’s far from ideal when you play with a whole lot of strangers, and especially when you’re trying to conduct team work. This chat issue does unfortunately put a dampener on the whole online experience as you find yourself quietly competing with others, but I guess it makes sense given the nature of the games target audience. Still, there’s nothing more that I’d like to hear than the angry abuse I’d receive after a successful sabotage attempt.
With few modes to experience, if might not seem like there’s much included within this package, but looks can be deceiving. Uno fortunately offers a multitude of ways in which the experience can be customised. For a start, the game offers the choice to play with themed decks instead of the default cards which puts a nice spin on the general proceedings. While the default game rules are consistent across the deck experiences, the cards themselves differ, adding unique challenges and scenarios into the mix. By standard, the base game comes with a ‘Rabbids’ deck – you know, those amusing/obnoxious Rayman creatures – but there will be more coming by way of DLC in the future. At the time of writing, there has yet to be any additional decks added, and it’s a shame that there aren’t more available to begin with. With details being kept under wraps for now, it’s unknown which decks will arrive, and how much they will cost. What I do know, however, is that it’s disappointing that this feature has been stripped back for the purpose of post-release DLC.
In addition to the decks, game rules can also be altered before starting a match, allowing further customisation and adding an extra shot of challenge. These rules each provide a significant difference in the way that each game plays out, and games are all the more entertaining (and ridiculous) with them applied. ‘Stacking’ is a particular favourite, allowing players to stack identical ‘Draw’ cards and pass the increased penalty onto other players, while the ‘7-0’ is another favourite rule that allows the ability to swap hands with your opponents whenever a 7 or 0 card is played. Mixing up the rules leads to more fun, unpredictable games, and it’s an extremely welcome series of features that does well to freshen up the standard gameplay.
Furthering the enjoyment factor a little more, the presentation of this game is incredibly tidy and pleasant. Colours are nice and vibrant, game information is displayed clearly, and there’s even some jaunty, jazzy music that plays in the background to top things off. All of this goes to make your time with Uno feel incredibly relaxing (well, about as relaxing as a game of sabotage can possibly be), and to put it simply, it’s just nice to look at.
While at face-value there might seem like there’s not much to this game, Uno actually has a surprising amount to offer. While it’s certainly not the kind of game you’re likely to spend more than an hour at a time playing, it’s ideal for short bursts, and is the very definition of pick up and play. With customisation options to add extra spice to the standard experience, and game rules that are extremely easy to learn, Uno is a fun little title that for only the measly price of £7.99, it’s hard to find many faults. It’s unfortunate that some of this games potential is locked behind future DLC, however, but what is on offer by standard is more than worth the price of admission.