Developer: Palm Court
Price: Free to play ($7.99/$6.99 unlocks all content)
Size: 172 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Wavelength is a really clever little board game about reading your friends’ minds. It’s quick, fun, and tends to kick off a lot of hilarious discussions. Here’s why this new digital adaptation is so fun.
At the core of wavelength is a dial, labeled with two opposing concepts. Hot and cold, round and pointy, “guilty pleasure” and “openly love”. The list goes on and the word pairs range from the mundane to the refreshingly absurd. Each round the dial is spun to a random position that only one player knows – their job is to come up with a clue that describes the target on the dial.
All other players then discuss their interpretation of the clue and try to guess – as a team – exactly what the first player was trying to convey. They work together to decide where they think the target sits on the dial, while the clue-giver remains silent. All players score points if it’s close.
Some of these concepts are easy to get your head around – if the clue is “the sun” you can be sure the target is all the way to the left of a hot-to-cold scale. But on a scale of “wizard” to “not wizard,” where would you put Darth Vader? That’s where things get more subjective, and discussing your reasoning with the other players can be really entertaining. These moments are where Wavelength shines.
Despite the inclusion of points, there’s no competitive edge here. It’s a fully collaborative board game in which the better you play the more you’ll feel connected to your friends. Nailing the exact right spot on the dial is really satisfying, especially when your reasoning turns out to be exactly the same as the clue-giver’s. It’s a great concept that almost anyone can pick up and join in with after a 30-second explainer.
The app itself is beautifully presented, with a charming art style, a good (quick!) tutorial video, and easy matchmaking options. Every player will need their own device with a copy of the app, but in practice, we found sharing devices as a team works fairly well too.
There are several nice touches in the app that elevate it beyond a soulless port. Charming customizable avatars proved to be popular with our test gamers, and each player can see the dial move in real-time as the others spin the target back and forth, trying to agree on a solution. You can see what everyone is thinking, but the final submission is always calculated as the average position between each player’s guess. Talk about democracy!
Though we overall prefer the charm and tactility of the original board game‘s plastic dial, this digital adaption does a great job of translating the “Best Party Game of 2019“ into a form that can be played in person or remotely. It’s also a completely free way to get started with the game – even if you pay for the expansion decks it still works out much cheaper than buying the original.