Exploding Kittens [App Review]

Date Wed, July 5 2017

When the Exploding Kittens app first became available but only to iOS users, I was bummed. I mean, I donated to the campaign for the physical card game (which is awesome). I have all the expansions. Don’t I, an Android user, deserve the game?

I guess so. It’s out now. I’m not sure how long it’s been out, but a friend reminded me, and I downloaded the app.

But first I had to pay for it. Now, $2 might not be much for a lot of fun, but it’s enough to deter many people from grabbing the app. After all, there are so many awesome apps that are available for free (Legendary is one I play lately). So I really wish that Exploding Kittens was available for free, but it you’re interested, you can get it from iTunes and Google Play.

Now, Exploding Kittens is far from the first party card game I’ve played on my phone. Evil Apples is a version of Cards Against Humanity (review here) that I played a lot of for a while. I cannot help but compare Exploding Kittens to this game for that reason.

When you log in, you choose your avatar. There are a rainbow of cats to choose from, but they’re a little generic. There are more interesting options, but you need to pay to use them. I opted for the free one. There’s not an option to use your own photo as far as I can tell.

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The app also generates a name for you. I am HuggyBear. I haven’t changed this because it’s cute and, judging from others’ names, they followed suit. The avatars and names really make Exploding Kittens feel more anonymous than Evil Apples, which may be a negative for some people.

For people who want to play Exploding Kittens with friends, that’s also an option. Instead of inviting friends like in Evil Apples, you provide them with a code and log in. You only need two people to play, but my experience shows that this isn’t enough to be fun.

When you’re in a game, there’s a chat menu with preset options, but you can’t type any message you’d like. For people who are more focused on the game than socializing, this might not be a detractor, however.

If you’re into playing anonymously, you can log on to a game with strangers. First, you choose a deck: the free/original deck, the party deck or the betrayal deck.¬†The game will let you try theparty deck for free once, and it adds a couple different cards including one that turns all your opponents’ cards into cat butts.

The game collects a few players, and you’re good to go. It seems like Exploding Kittens isn’t super popular because it takes longer to populate a game than with Evil Apples. I’ve also experienced more than a few canceled games due to connection errors or the host dropping out.

Once you’re in the game, you’re dealt a hands of cards that use the same art style (thanks to Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal!) that you’re used to, but some cards/game mechanisms have been changed to work better for the mobile format. For example, you can still peek at three cards or shuffle. You want to avoid the exploding kitten with a defuse card, but there are now slap and double slap options in the stead of favor and attack cards, and you only need a single kitten to take a card from someone else rather than pairs. This makes sense given that you’re playing digitally, and it work be harder to select two cards at once.

You can touch a card to see what it does, and a little screen explains the effect of the last played card. Learn how to play here.

A notable¬†omission comes in the form of “Nope” cards, which you can use in the physical game to stop any action that isn’t defusing a kitten. When I’ve played, there has sometimes been a sequence of players laying down those cards and yelling “Nope,” which is always a good time. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as fun in the app. I’m not sure because it’s not there.

Like the card game, you can replace an exploding kitten in the deck. You can choose from a few specific locations or replace it in random. There’s a gauge that explains the likelihood of picking an exploding kitten, too, which can help you to determine which cards to play.

If you do lose, you need to wait for the end of the game, which is a bit frustrating. I’d rather be able to leave.

Play involves a number of unique animations and sounds that I think are well done and realistic enough to bother my cat. LOL However, the animations make an already mediocre game take longer than it otherwise would.

Since I paid for the app, I plan to keep playing it, but it hasn’t been as fun as Evil Apples or the actual card game. I find myself playing because the game prompts me. It’s a bit slow in between turns, and it doesn’t hold my attention.

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