Lately there has been a rash of celebrity-connected party games in the App Store. Ellen Degeneres is pushing Heads Up, Zynga wants us to believe Carly Rae Jepson is a big fan of Draw Something 2, and the band OK Go is headlining Say the Same Thing. Who knew that celebrities were such experts at game design?
In the case of Say the Same Thing, the members of OK Go may deserve some credit. The game is so simple that it seems like it must be a old folk game, but we’ve never encountered it before. More importantly, it works better as a mobile game than it does in the real world.
Say the Same Thing is unusually cooperative. You and a partner simultaneously blurt out a random word. You then try to say a word that connects the two words you just said. When both of you say the same word at the same time, you win.
Two members of OK Go demonstrate the game in a rather charming video, but it seems a little tricky to talk and listen at the same time in the real world. That’s not a problem with this app. Say the Same Thing plays like a dream as an asynchronous game, since you can enter your response, do something else, and check back in when your partner is ready.
The game does a lot of other things to make playing convenient. You can play with friends or get matched with random players. There’s even a special button for playing with a member of OK Go, though we weren’t surprised when our request to play disappeared into a queue, never to be seen again. You can chat and stamp short messages on your words, and there’s even a random word button that you can tap if you’re feeling stumped for a good opener.
New games and messages cost a small amount of in-game currency, which you can buy via in-app purchase. You get a generous allotment to start with, and the game gives you more over time. Most players won’t need to buy currency, though they may want to pony up for the ad-free version. The game drops a lot of ads on you, especially after the first hour of play. It’s annoying.
What we loved about Say the Same Thing is how quickly you can zero in on one word with somebody you’ve never even met. We started one game with the random combination of “cat” and “shirt”. That led to “fluff” and “fur,” and we won the game in the third round with “soft.” Making that mental connection is a thrill, and it happens a lot.
The drawback of social play, though, is that you’re only as good as your partnership. The game is fantastic when you and your partner are making good guesses. It’s frustrating when you go round after round and the other player just doesn’t seem to get it.
The biggest strategic pitfall seems to be trying to guess what your partner will say next. When we and our partners tried to connect the words we just played, we arrived at the same word quickly. But our worst games devolved into tortured logic like “My partner has been switching to opposites a lot, and she just said “out,” so maybe if I say ‘in we’ll actually get it right… no! she just said the opposite of my last word! Argh!”
The great moments outweigh the tedious games, though. Say the Same Thing creates amazing connections between people, and that’s a profound thing for a simple game to do.