Geek Out! Review
Geek Out! by Playroom Entertainment is a party game that gives players a worthwhile use for all of the geeky knowledge they’ve amassed over the years. Whether you’re a fanatic for comic books, fantasy, science fiction or games, this has you covered with a wide swath of challenges that will put you to the test. Are you ready to flex your nerd muscles?
Inside the box, you will get 205 list cards, 20 penalty chips and a six-sided category die. Each card gives you five lists, for a total of 1025 lists in the game. The component quality is nothing to write home about, but they do their job just fine.
Unlike a traditional trivia game, this challenges players to create lists of a certain length based on the criteria. For instance, one list may ask you to name six films in which Tom Cruise appears, or name two characters from the Sandman universe. As a tangent, I read the first volume of Sandman just a few months ago and I can’t remember the names of anyone in that book other than Constantine, who just makes a cameo appearance in one issue. Anyway, the person who drew that card gets first dibs on claiming that challenge.
Where things get interesting is that players can outbid each other. If you can name seven or more Sandman characters, then you could potentially steal the points by successfully completing the list. The bidding phase ends when someone or some team have claimed the highest number of items they can name. At that point, they must successfully reach that quota to earn one point, or else they eat a two-point penalty. The first player or team to reach five points wins.
I’m always weary of physical trivia games, as you’ll eventually just memorize the answers on the cards. Thankfully, this is not a traditional trivia game. Instead, the cards list jumping-off points that can have legs. As an example, one of the lists requires you to name video games based on manga. The number of possible answers for this challenge will always grow with time, making it a something that won’t immediately become old. Furthermore, it gives players a ton of opportunities to actually geek out about a specific subject, as they organically speak about the subject while listing off items.
Everyone is going to have their own strengths and weaknesses, though there are a few ways that the game can even things out. First of all, each turn starts with players rolling the category die, which means you might get hit with a category that exploits a hole in your knowledge. On top of that, bidding isn’t just for scoring your own points, but also for knocking someone else down. By running up the bids and bailing at the last minute, you can press someone else into biting off more than they can chew, which could end in a two-point penalty. Neither of these are a complete equalizer, as someone with an all-encompassing knowledge of geekdom would probably have an advantage, but these mechanisms can level the playing field to a point.
The types of lists that the game challenges you to create are very well done. In particular, I love the lists that challenge you to name different characters or franchises that are related by a common concept. Looking at the cards now, one that fits the bill is a list that asks players to name two franchises in which a child is kidnapped/switched into a fantasy world. These types of lists really put your knowledge of the material to the test, versus just rattling off a series of names (though the game asks you do that too).
Not sure if every version of Geek Out! has this, but our version came with a small deck of promo cards for Geek Out! Pop Culture Party. Unlike the main game, Pop Culture Party has a four different categories: movies, television, books and music. Based on this sample, I think I’ll also grab Pop Culture Party eventually, as they also seem like fun lists that are probably more usable in most real life scenarios. I like classic Geek Out!, but I also recognize that certain crowds won’t have a chance of listing off names of arcade pinball games.
Geek Out! is a fun party game that is also a celebration of all things nerdy. Challenging players to create and bid on lists is a clever twist that will keep this game fresh considerably longer than a standard trivia game. If you play it in teams, you can also have any number of players join in. If you play in groups where knowledge in games, sci-fi, fantasy or comics is limited, then Pop Culture Party may be a better fit. Otherwise, go ahead and grab Geek Out!.