Card games on a console are an unusual combination. The very purpose of games like Uno is the social aspect, being able to have a laugh and chat to friends while you’re playing against each other. That’s fine if, in Uno’s case, you’ve got three friends to hand to enjoy it with, but without a lump of available friends the game doesn’t get the full enjoyment. Step forward the console version, with online play to help you plug those gaps in your friendship circles. Hooray!
Well, sort of hooray.
If you’re not familiar with Uno, it’s a very simple card game whereby cards of four colours and various values are shuffled and dealt out. Each turn you need to place a card onto the table which is the same colour or value as the last one put down. If you can’t, you take another from the draw pile. There are a few special cards such as changing the active colour, or making the next player miss a go or pick up more cards, but that’s about the strength of it. Easy, instant to learn, and very young gamer friendly. The console version lets you play against the AI (which, as this is largely luck based, serves a pretty steady challenge) or jump online and play against some real people.
This is where the not-quite-hooray moment shows up. If you’re playing with friends then this is great, you’ve got the option of full video and audio communications so can have a laugh and actually see the reactions of the other players when you screw them over or call them for forgetting to say “Uno” as they play their penultimate card. But play with strangers, and it’s far more limited. There’s no video option, and not even any voice chat available either. As such playing with strangers is much like playing against the AI, just with different names and more people dropping out when they’re losing horribly.
There are, thankfully, several modifiers which tweak the game considerably and make things more interesting if you’re tiring of the basic rules. You’ll find these being used a lot online, allowing you to jump in if you have a card matching the one just put down by another player, or swapping your whole deck with another player by playing a 7. Between that and the customised cards (there’s a Wacky Rabbids deck included which has a couple of special cards in addition to the usual ones) there’s a fair bit to keep you occupied if it’s a game you enjoy. The games can go on for a few minutes short of forever though, so don’t hop in hoping to be done in a few minutes.
So whether or not you should pick up Uno depends on why you want it in the first place. If it’s something for you to play casually, with the odd online game with friends or strangers without the need to interact socially, then it’s worth a look as a laid back game. But if you’re someone who likes to use card games as a social event and meet new people while playing, you’re out of luck. The lack of communication with strangers takes a lot of the potential fun out (although I gather a previous version of this was renowned for slightly less child-friendly videos…) and if you want to play with people in the same room then this won’t let you do that (you’ll see the other players’ cards after all) but, taken for what it is, Uno isn’t too bad at all.
Reviewed on PS4