Review: Duplik

duplikboxIn 2010, when Dixit managed to snag the Spiel des Jahres in an era where the winner was usually a strategy game, Dixit actually wasn’t the only party game up for the award. Identik, later published as Portrayal and now republished in 2015 as Duplik, made it all the way to the nominations as well. In Duplik, one player describes a picture that only she sees as fast as possible while the other players try to recreate it. Sounds like it has the potential for hilarity, but how does it pan out? Here’s a reminder of my scoring categories:


Components – Does the game look nice? Are the bits worth the money? Do they add to the game?
Accessibility – How easy is the game to teach, or to feel like you know what you are doing?
Depth – Does the gameplay allow for deeper strategies, or does the game play itself?
Theme – Does the game give a sense of immersion? Can you imagine  the setting described in the game?
Fun – Is the game actually enjoyable? Do you find yourself smiling, laughing, or having some sense of satisfaction when it’s over?


Components: Duplik‘s components are rather sparse, which is a good thing overall. The pictures in the game have scoring categories beside them that you don’t reveal until after describing the picture, and there’s a super-cool red plastic “secret decoder” for that part of text, like you would find in old cereal boxes. (However, you can still see the text without it if you squint, which is too bad.) The only other real component of the game are the sketchpads/scorepads, which are very nicely done, except that there are far too few of them if you plan on playing the game a lot. However, with an MSRP of $20, I can’t complain too much – you can just use regular paper if you run out.


Accessibility: Party games by nature need to be relatively easy to learn, and Duplik fits the bill. It might take one round to get a grip on how scoring works (and what in the world the scoring categories might be asking for), but it’s much much simpler than even, say, The Resistance or Wits & Wagers. It does take a certain type of ‘skill’ of being able to talk quickly under pressure that you can’t exactly develop quickly, so I know some people who would absolutely hate this game for that reason, at least for the turn when they are the clue-giver. Overall, though, it’s a game anyone can jump into, and would make a great gateway game.


Depth: One of Duplik’s strengths is also its weakness, and that’s the scoring. The ridiculous scoring mechanism is what makes the game so funny (I’ll never forget when the condition was “eight feet have been drawn” and a player had drawn seven, not bothering to draw the last foot). Yet, the problem with that is that “playing to win” is a gigantic crapshoot, and really not the point of the game. At the same time, it’s not like you can just quit keeping score like we so often do in Telestrations, because you need the scoring mechanisms for the game to actually function. So, there’s definite some skills needed here – being able to talk, think, draw quickly – but this is by no means a game where the most experienced player wins, unless they’ve memorized all of the pictures (another small drawback to the game’s replayability).


Theme: There’s not really a theme to this game, but what does come in is how silly and crazy some of the pictures are. We all had a great laugh from viewing the pictures afterwards, and wondering who the heck came up with them (and how to “score” them). In terms of immersion, the game actually does quite well.


Fun: I do enjoy Duplik quite a bit, but it’s been cursed twice now. Its originally release was overshadowed by Dixit, and now its reprint is up against some of the best party games to ever be released, Codenames and Spyfall. If you’re looking for a different style of party game, though, Duplik is a lot of fun and shouldn’t be overlooked.


Duplik is a unique spin on the “drawing” genre of party games and generates plenty of laughter – and that’s probably all the recommendation it needs.




4 out of 5

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