Reviewed by Louise Totton
Interaction is a boardgame with a difference: you don’t need to spend any time reading boring instructions, you don’t need to come up with alternative rules or workarounds for younger players and it challenges every aspect of your brain. Interaction combines the social interactiveness of a traditional boardgame with the infinite adaptability of an app. In short, this is absolutely a boardgame, but not as you know it; it involves moving your playing piece around a physical board, collecting cards and trying to reach the goal first, by completing app-based challenges and tasks.
First thing’s first – you will need an Android or Apple tablet or phone to be able to play this game; you cannot play it without it. It is for players aimed 8+ and can be played by 2-9 players. Contained in the box is:
- The Interaction board – in 4 pieces for you to jigsaw together
- 3 x large playing pieces (blue, green & orange) for moving around the outside board
- 3 x small playing markers (blue, green & orange) for moving around the inside board
- 1 x die
- 1 x pen
- 75 x white playing cards
- 15 x black ‘nasty’ cards
- 1 x ball
- Activation card
The first thing that needs to be done before the game is played is to install the app onto one of the players’ devices. We installed it onto an Android mobile phone, which took a matter of seconds, but you will need the game in front of you to do this. Inside the box is an activation card with a unique code that you will need to get the app fully working – once this is done, you are ready to go!
Assembling the board only takes a few seconds, and once this is done, each player pops their playing piece on their corresponding start square on the outer board and their play marker on the scoring board. This scoring board shows your team’s progress towards the goal.
The next step is to set the game up within the app, again, this is pretty simple. There can be a maximum of three teams, and each team can have a maximum of three players. When you load the app up, it talks you through setting your teams up, which interestingly includes a field to enter the players’ ages. This means that the game will always try to set tasks and questions which are appropriate for the age of player whose turn it is.
There are no instructions included in the box – the game replies on the app to walk you through game play and rules, so in theory, instructions shouldn’t be necessary. The idea is that you can play the game straight out of the box with no need to spend time reading instructions. I have to say that I personally don’t like this at all – it’s fine having the app walk you through the game play but I like to can through the instructions first to make sure I fully understand the game, and there is no way of doing this. I don’t have an issue with the app walking you through the game play, but I do think there should be a set of printed instructions too.
The game is like a standard boardgame in how play works – the die is rolled and the player moves their playing piece by the relevant number of spaces. From here, you will land on one of 6 different kinds of space: knowledge, creativity, action, social or games, or joker which gives them the opportunity to select their own category. You then enter your category into the app and it will throw a challenge at you. Some of them are against other teams, whereas some of them just need completing yourself. Other teams can help or hinder you by playing their ‘nasty’ card, which tells the app to make your challenge a little harder, ‘stealing’ your task if they think they can win your points, or if they are feeling particularly nice, making your task a little easier. The winner of the task is then allocated a number of places to move forward on the inner board, on their way to the goal.
There is a great range of tasks, and there really is something that will challenge everyone. I particularly enjoyed some of the arithmetic questions and I really liked how the kids’ questions were tailored to their ages. The kids really liked some of the more physical challenges and it got everyone moving which is always a good thing, and one of the tasks even had us taking it in turns to shout ‘cluck cluck’ at the phone, whilst trying to get a chicken to jump over obstacles in a farmyard! These are games that couldn’t work any other way but via an interactive device, and it’s an example of how a screen can enhance rather than replace traditional game play.
We had high hopes for this game – the kids were really keen on playing because of the interaction with the app, and the adults thought it would be great as there would be no more adjusting rules or tasks for younger team members. In reality, whilst it was fun, it wasn’t without its faults. I wasn’t keen on some of the games – one in particular had players shaking the device to try to get a ‘fizzy drink’ to fizz over as much as possible. This isn’t great if you’re playing with an excited child who is trying to shake a £950 smart phone as hard as she can, and I had to take it off her and just allocate the points anyway.
We did struggle initially to understand some of the rules, and the fact that we couldn’t just consult a rules sheet made it even harder to get our heads around. In theory, the game should have been great, but in practice, it just didn’t really work for us. We loved some of the challenges, the kids found the game really engaging and I do honestly think we would all have had a far more positive experience if there had just been a set of clear, printed instructions in the box.
It’s so hard to decide how to rate this, as we thought the game itself was great, but the concept of no instructions is flawed and really does take away from the enjoyment. I have no issue with it being app based, but I do think printed instructions are necessary.