Some may argue that smartphones are ruining our lives, but I truly believe that they can make our lives more fun and more social with games like Heads Up Charades! Most modern games involve a single person using a single phone, staring down at their screen and blocking out everyone around them, but not this one.
This is a game to play with a group of friends — a truly social smartphone game. You simply select a category, hold it up to your forehead so that your friends can see the word or phrase but you can’t, and then they try to get you to guess what the word or phrase is. It’s a hilarious and fantastic way to kill time with friends.
Today I’m reviewing the Android game, but the iOS game is identical. Both have just been recently upgraded from version 1.2 to version 2.0, which has a significantly different interface, although the gameplay remains similar.
How Does It Look?
The new update for Charades! makes the interface infinitely better looking and easier to use. Whereas the old interface was clunky, slow, and unattractive, Charades! has finally entered the modern design era with lots of rectangles, bright colors, and simple navigation.
From the home screen, you have a couple of options: Quick Play or Versus. Quick Play just pits a single person against a group — one person guessing, and the group shouting hints. The Versus mode allows you to keep score between two teams who will switch off trying to get their respective partners to guess correctly, more like in traditional charades.
After choosing your mode, you’ll see the screen above with a scrollable list on the right and a persistent menu on the left. You can select any category from here or tap the heart icon on the category to sort it into your Favorites. There aren’t as many categories as there are in Quizup, which is also an awesome game, but there’s a decent amount.
Most of the categories are free unless you scroll to the very bottom or select the New category on the left. The makers of the game have said that they plan to release new categories every week, although these seems to cost you a bit, and we’ll get more into the pricing scheme later.
The Custom section allows you to create your own cards for a more personalized experience. I initially thought the custom mode might be too easy since everything you think of would be places, people, or things relevant to your and your friends’ lives, but it’s actually much harder than you’d expect, and insanely fun. I would suggest having one person (or group) make up all the cards and then handing it off to another person who doesn’t know the cards to do the guessing.
The guesser is supposed to hold the game to their forehead, but it isn’t completely necessary; you can hold it out in front of your chest as long as you can’t see the screen and the others can. After you press Play, the screen will say “Place On Forehead”; you then can hold onto the phone for a moment, but the second you flip it around and hold it up to your forehead, a 5 second countdown will begin before it starts.
If your friends are shouting out hints but you just can’t figure it out, you can pass on the card by twisting the phone upwards. The screen will flash red briefly and move on to the next card.
On the other hand, if you guess correctly, twist the phone downwards to trigger a correct response. In my usage, the game generally registered twisting gestures accurately, but there were a few times when it randomly passed on cards that I or my friends didn’t mean to pass on, or it just didn’t move on to the next card at all after being twisted. This was a rare occurrence, though, and didn’t make it a negative experience.
When your time is up, it’ll tally up your score and you can frustratingly review all the ones you missed. If you’re playing Versus, it’ll then have you hand it off to the next team.
But What Does It Cost?
While it is a free game, it is powered by ads and in-game purchases. There is a consistent border ad running along the bottom edge of the screen, even during gameplay, and it will interrupt you at the home screen occasionally and after games for a full-screen ad.
Thankfully, ads can be removed for $0.99, or you can remove ads and get 500 coins for $3.99.
The coins are useful for unlocking new categories, which are all priced at 100 coins. At $3.99 for 500 coins, you’re essentially paying $0.80 per category. It’s a useful option have, but you can definitely just use the free categories or create your own for free.
Options and Customizations
Only a few customizations exist here: changing the round time to 60, 90, or 120 seconds, toggling bonus time, and toggling sound effects. The sound effects actually can come in handy for the person holding the phone, since they can’t see the screen to know if their twist of the hand worked properly, but the “pass” and “correct” noises can get annoying if you play a lot.
On the other hand, bonus time is a neat feature that adds two seconds to your playing time when you get a question right. It’s a small change that probably won’t affect gameplay much, but it’s nice that they include the option instead of forcing you one way or the other.
Looking for games you can play without a data connection? Check out these offline iPad and iPhone games. And don’t forget to discover all the latest mobile games worth playing!