The words “family game” might strike fear into the heart of hardcore board game enthusiasts. Those used to dealing with hundreds of cards, miniatures and 40-page rule books might scoff at the idea of a game based almost entirely around drawing lines, dots and circles, but to keep that opinion without at least trying the game in question would be a huge mistake; Loony Quest is a fantastically fun game which works every bit as well with a group of adults as a younger audience. Make no mistake, this is a flawless example of why the family gaming genre isn’t one to ignore.
Loony Quest bridges the gap between board games and video games by setting up in the style of an everyday platformer, whereby you’ll need to navigate numerous levels, avoid the bad guys and pick up various items to score points. Each set of levels even ends with a boss fight needing some far more imaginative solutions, but more on that later. Gameplay movement isn’t determined by character models or tokens though, instead each player is required to look at the level then draw their intended route using a transparent plastic overlay sheet in front of them. Once everyone has done their drawing (generally under a time limit) each one is positioned onto the level in turn and points are awarded or deducted depending in which symbols, walls or bad guys get bumped into.
Sound easy? Well, it’s not. Initially you’ll probably find things quite straightforward and avoid most of the hazards in the opening couple of levels, but once things start moving on a bit it gets harder and harder to do well. Players can also earn tokens which make their things tricky for other players, increase the amount of XP they earn or with a little less luck pick up penalties for hitting the wrong places. The banana token, for example, can be thrown (not placed) onto another player’s clear sheet and can’t be touched during the drawing process, the “cramp” penalty forces that player to draw with a full extended straight arm, and the mosquito token must be balanced on the player’s pen while they’re drawing. All this while trying to navigate ever-increasingly difficult levels. Believe me, there’s plenty here to make a seemingly simple task far more daunting.
The successful completion of a level will need a range of techniques as you progress through the game, with the initial “draw a line from start to finish” method being joined by circling certain items or characters, and placing single dots on the characters or items you’ve been told to aim for. It might also be that you need to push a button before passing through a coloured laser (in which case your line needs to pass through the button first, then the laser) or collect a key before unlocking a cage to gain some extra XP. Each level has its own base objectives though, be it to collect various things, attack the enemies or even combinations of tasks which need to be completed together in order to succeed. This is especially true of the boss battles, which need impressive precision for that elusive perfect takedown, but also start to apple to other levels as you progress through the game. There’s a definite risk/reward system in place – you’ll often find some very tempting power-ups or bonuses in awkward places on the level, so the decision of whether to play it safe and avoid penalties or go for the big prizes and risk screwing it up is tougher than you might think, more so when you keep in mind that your lines mustn’t touch or cross themselves at any point which makes getting in and out of a small area doubly tough. Your XP translates into progress around the outside of the board though, and as being ahead of the other players is how you’ll be winning, you’ll be looking at every possible way to boost your score as much a possible.
Despite all the little twists and turns provided by the game’s tokens, it still proves to be an enjoyable and very easy to learn game, and one which is genuinely accessible to a younger audience. And because everything is based around simple drawing it probably won’t make much difference whether you’re 10 or 40, if you can draw a line and some circles then you can play Loony Quest. The friendly nature of the game doesn’t take away the competitive edge either, and while you’re arguing over whether or not someone’s line has brushed the bad guy or not another player is planning how to use his Broom token to pass a penalty token over to someone else, forcing them to draw with one eye closed. There’s a lot of revenge, a lot of underhand tactics, and it’s great fun.
So if you’re usually the kind of board game fan who looks at bright, colourful boxes and looks away straight away, or generally ignores anything which doesn’t contain zombies or detailed leveling systems then you might be doing yourself out of some great fun here. Whether you’re playing with adults, kids or a bit of both there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had in Loony Quest, and it’s impossible to not recommend it to anyone looking for a light fun and quick game. Give it a go, you won’t regret it.
Available Now, RRP £19.99
Find your local stockist here