12 May 2023
Gateway into what?
Platypus is best described as a gateway game into Codenames. It is also a cooperative deduction game, where one group of players are giving word clues to another group of players. Only instead of finding a group of specific words, in Platypus, players, called the explorers, need to gradually eliminate wrong words from the starting eight nouns down to just one. The clue givers, known as guides, will play down adjective cards that describe that noun, assisting explorers with their choices. Explorers are allowed to talk and discuss their choices, the guides, however, rely on the cards they have in their hands and can’t give any other verbal clues.
Like Codenames, Platypus plays with the idea that a single word may have different meanings and associations with different people, which can present interesting gameplay challenges. Guide players are also having to navigate an imperfect clue-giving system: the cards they have in their hands may not be a great match for the word that needs guessing. When you combine ambiguity of interpretations and purposefully flawed clue giving, there is always plenty of debate and uncertainty that can result either in hilarity from getting a word wrong or a satisfying sense of relief upon getting it right.
Having a limited number of clue cards also keeps the pace of the game going. Unlike Codenames, where a clue giver can spend ages thinking of a word-number combo that offers the best clue, in Platypus there is barely any downtime. You know what it is in your hand, so you can play it quickly. The downside, of course, is that a bad hand will always be unhelpful, which can be frustrating as there aren’t many ways to get new cards. Yet, even despite that, the shadow of Codenames looms over Platypus. It is hard to match the elegance of Codenames, and while Platypus tries to create its own lane by offering less challenging and more fast-paced gameplay, it is not enough of a difference to escape the comparison.
PLAY IT? MAYBE
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Time: 30 minutes
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