Things might not be good right now. Some would say they’re kind of awful and draining and scary. So, this week, we’re going to just keep it simple. We’re going to keep it simple, we’re going to focus on games. So, here’s what we got: It’s an elimination card game where you are murdered by kittens doing kitten things at inopportune times. That is, literally, it. This is Exploding Kittens (and Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition).
Once upon a time, Shane Small went to Elan Lee and, after solving what I assume to be several cryptic clues and waiting for an equally mysterious email, started working together to develop a simple card game. It was called “Bomb Squad” and it, allegedly, sucked. After several months of tweaking rules and bringing in the insanely popular artist Matt Inman, they launched one of the most successful Kickstarters in recent memory. Like, the game was a bona-fide hit before it ever saw store shelves.
I had two copies before it was even available.
Let that sink in.
So, the game had a Kickstarter run that would make most independent artists cry and a pedigree that should get game enthusiasts drooling. It was launched with almost no hiccups (something that’s starting to feel like a rarity for Kickstarter games nowadays) and holy crap you can buy it at Target. Like, not at your LGS or online or from the back of some dude’s car, but Target. They sell it next to Monopoly. Clearly the next couple hundred words are just me gushing about this game, right?
Gameplay is a bit Go Fish meets Russian Roulette: Each turn a player plays a card and then draws draws a card. If you draw an Exploding Kitten card, though, you need to defuse it with a Defuse card or, y’know, die. That’s kind of the long and short of it, but if you want to see Dr. Krieger explain how you play it, just watch this:
Man, what a voice. Anyway, the problem with this game is that… That’s it. It’s play a card, draw a card, hope you don’t draw an Exploding Kitten card. The attempts to tweak this formula, with players being allowed to shuffle the deck and rearrange and steal cards, do keep it from being too stale but it doesn’t change the core “play one draw one” of the game. Gameplay is just sort of… Okay. It’s not bad, it’s just not going to hold your interest for too long. So, then, the game has to just be the funniest thing ever to have such a great Kickstarter run, right?
The humor, juvenile it may be, has a certain charm that I think can best be summarized as “early 2000s internet influenced.” When I was a wee teenager we called it “lol random,” but today I believe the nomenclature is “randomcore.” It’s cute and it’s harmless. Even the NSFW material – which is a separate release that can be combined with the main game for more players – sticks to this humor, with offerings such as “Play A Game of Whale Boner Tetherball.” If you’re the type of person who can spend a few hours on Imgur, then you’ll probably find this game funnier than… I’unno, two nuns in a boxing match?
So, yeah, the game never seemed to evolve much farther than the “Bomb Squad” prototype in my opinion – A little too simple for it’s own good. Not to say that this game sucks. It doesn’t. Take that as the tl;dr version of this review: This game doesn’t suck. Doesn’t do much, and I can’t see it being anyone’s favorite, but it certainly doesn’t suck. It’s a success with an expansion coming out, and I hope the team behind it really can shine with their next game, Bears vs Babies. But this?