Heads Up! has always been one of those party games that’s perfect to play with a bunch of friends, with its simple yet addictive word-guessing gameplay easy for just about anyone to grasp. Everyone has a smart phone too, so it’s convenient to play in just about any situation. Despite this, I still found myself interested in the new ‘Phones Down Edition’ of the game that moves the experience to the big screen, which is actually more ideal when playing with a lot of players.
Unfortunately, whilst the transition has had some success from a gameplay perspective, this release is over-priced and lacks any substantial extras to make it stand out as a worthwhile purchase when compared to the mobile app.
Check out some screenshots down below:
The gameplay of Heads Up! Phones Down Edition is simple, with one player spending sixty seconds drawing words from a themed deck and having to guess them based upon clues given by the other players. In this case, the word will appear on a TV screen that the guessing player has to stand in front of, with clues then shouted out, acted out, or sung by the other players as a means to help them figure each word out. The guessing team or player gets a point for every success they have, with players using the buttons on the controller to say when they’ve guessed correctly or passed on to the next word. And when the sixty seconds are up? The points are tallied up and players switch turns. You need a minimum of two players to play, but it’s at it’s best when you’ve got a big bunch of friends together and split yourself off into teams.
It’s a LOT of fun, with the chaos of a group of people shouting out clues and trying to get you to figure out each word making for a really entertaining experience. I’ve played Heads Up! a lot in the past, but having it on a big screen was way more convenient than having everyone try to look at the word on a phone above someone’s head. There’s a decent selection of decks available in the game too, with over ninety available that span all sorts of genres ranging from movies, toys, food, music and so forth. Admittedly, there are some duds in there, but you’ll certainly find something that’ll cater for your group of friends. Scary Movies and Video Games were a favourite for us, but we also managed to harmonise BEAUTIFULLY on the music-themed decks too…
“Heads Up! Phones Down Edition is hard to review because the gameplay is great, but the price and lack of worthwhile extras is grim.”
So where do things go wrong? Well, given the game’s transition to a console release, I was hoping that there may be more options when it comes to setting up games or tracking the points earned by players, but nope, it gives you the bare minimum. There aren’t any intuitive options in place to manage your game, assign each player their turn, set up teams, or anything extra like that – it’s exactly the same as the mobile experience, with the game only allowing you to pick a deck and play from there. Whilst the simplicity of the game is what makes it so appealing, it would have been nice if this edition helped establish a party atmosphere by setting up your own games where you can fine-tune the teams or the rules at play. It feels like a missed opportunity to expand upon the formula in a worthwhile way.
It’s something that would have been easy to forgive if the game was cheap, but at £32.99 on the PlayStation Store, it’s hard not to feel a bit grossed out. I can grab the game for £1.99 on the App Store, whilst the Netflix Edition is available for free as part of my subscription. They have access to some really cool themed decks that aren’t available in Heads Up! Phones Down Edition too, with the console version lacking those specialist decks like Marvel, Stranger Things, Harry Potter, Friends, and so forth that stand out as big favourites when playing on mobile. And sure, the decks on offer do offer plenty of diversity and fun, but they aren’t quite as eye-catching as something branded.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s also worth noting that a lot of the decks are American-focused, so if you’re playing outside of the country (I’m UK-based), you might not actually know what a lot of the answers might be. There are plenty of decks on offer that are more global so it isn’t a big deal, but there were a few occasions where my group was stumped when a fast-food chain or TV show that we don’t have in the UK showed up. It’s not something that has affected my scoring in this review at all, but it’s something that’s worth noting before purchase.
Heads Up! Phones Down Edition Review
Heads Up! Phones Down Edition is hard to review because the gameplay is great, but the price and lack of worthwhile extras is grim. Playing the game on the big screen worked perfectly in a party atmosphere, there are plenty of cool decks to play, and, as expected, the gameplay experience is just as fun and addictive when playing on mobile. On the other hand, the high price point is a gross given that it’s SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper on mobile devices, it lacks any new features to make setting up games more convenient or interesting, and it doesn’t have the more popular branded decks found on mobile.
I’ve really enjoyed playing the game with my friends but find it hard to recommend based upon the price alone. If you’re happy to play the game on mobile, stick to that. But if playing on console is your only option? Prepare to feel a bit ripped off.
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC