The recent trend these days is to have famous board games get the mobile port treatment so that people can get their dose of addictive experience without the hassle of bringing physical copies of the game to a friend’s house. That’s why it’s no surprise that Exploding Kittens, a game that’s illustrated by none other than Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal and by two veteran game designers, gets its own mobile version.
Exploding Kittens the app is a game that seems to be designed to bring in the zany and easy to learn gameplay of the card game to the mobile port. Working on the original card gameplay design, the Exploding Kittens app is a more streamlined version of its hard copy version.
The app version of Exploding Kittens uses the gameplay of the card game version. The game practically plays like a Russian Roulette where each player needs to avoid getting the exploding kitten to stay in the game.
For those unfamiliar to the card game rules. Exploding Kittens turns the whole general card game rules on its head by forcing players to draw at the end of their turn instead of the beginning. So your first move at the start of the game is usually playing cards to mess with your opponents by forcing them to take two turns, or even steal from their hand. You can also ruin the tempo of the game by putting down cards that directly affect the deck such as forcing to shuffle or looking into the top three cards. You can also affect the game flow by placing down action cards that reverse turn order or even skipping your turn and allowing you to not draw at the end of the game. Basically it’s like UNO but with far higher stakes on the line every turn.
The app version of Exploding Kittens retains the card game’s core gameplay with a few tweaks to the cards in the deck. Instead of having the “dead” cards, or cards where you need the same type before they can be used. The Exploding Kittens app removes them entirely from the deck. Thus almost everything you can draw is an action card.
Another app exclusive feature is that the game has a Chance of Kitten meter that provides you a percentage on how likely you’ll be drawing an exploding kitten on your turn.
Currently, the app only allows you to play online against other players on public games or against friends by hosting or joining matches in private matches. Weirdly enough the game doesn’t have pass to play capabilities or even playing locally.
The game is pretty basic even if you purchased the expansion decks which only adds more card varieties to the game. While the game itself is cheap on the app store, it’s kinda a downer that you can’t even play locally with friends when board game ported apps have all but made this the standard in the industry.
It seems that the game is meant to be played in short bursts as there aren’t many game features that you can spend time on. You can’t even chat as you’re only allowed to do pre-determined expressions in-game.
Game Audio and Visuals
One of the things I like about the game is that it has tons of cute visuals and sfx. This keeps the game upbeat and fun as you continue to play against other people. Even the expressions have their own sound bites which makes the game even more fun to play. With the illustrator from The Oatmeal still on board as the illustrator, the game retains the visual feel you get from playing the card game.
I love that the game designers were able to find a way to fill-in the gap of face-to-face gameplay by adding the funny and zany sound effects. The sfx and visuals actually are what makes the game such a fun experience even if the gameplay is really simple.
My overall experience with the Exploding Kittens app is somewhat similar to my first experience with the card game. Matches are short but sweet, and you can easily cycle through against other people in-game. I love the fact that you don’t necessarily have to learn the ropes again if you have already played the card game before playing the app. I also love the fact that the app was clearly made to not overshadow the card game and vice versa. You won’t ever have that feeling that you’d rather play with the app or the card game if you have both.
It seems that the game was designed to be really just a more bite-sized, shorter version of the Exploding Kitten card game that’s perfect when friends aren’t around. Which is a good thing since you’re not going to feel obligated to get the app even if you have the physical game.
With that said, I really have to say that I would’ve wanted to have more things to do in-game. The lack of pass-to-play capability feels like a lost opportunity. Having pass to play would allow you to introduce the game to others that you’d like to also play the game with.
It’s kind of fun that the app also has two expansions that you can unlock. The added cards provide a bit more variety in the gameplay as you face other people. I also like that you aren’t required to get the expansions to enjoy the game fully. The expansions are designed to be just nice add-ons to your deck rather than something that’s necessary to find the app enjoyable. Plus it’s a huge bonus that they aren’t filled with OP cards that would give you an advantage over playing against free opponents.
All in all, my time with the Exploding Kittens app was fun. While there are more things that I wish the game had, as it is, it’s a good way to scratch the Exploding Kitten itch if you can’t have your friends with you physically. The app’s price point isn’t something that would break the bank so it won’t feel that you wasted your money if you have the card game and also get this.