Similo: Familiar Faces

  • Designers: Martino Chiacchiera, Hjalmar Hach, Pierluca Zizzi
  • Artist: Xavier Durin
  • Publisher: Horrible Guild
  • Release Date: December 12th, 2019

Disclaimer: This game was provided to us by Luma Games for review.

Phil: So… why Similo?

Luke: What?

Phil: You were the one who was interested in checking this one out.

Luke: Well sure; the art looks great, the premise is simple, and it takes elements of Mysterium and Codenames and puts them in a small package.

Phil: The art is great. I particularly like the expressions on the characters’ faces. It gives them more of a personality and makes them endearing.

Luke: The backgrounds are my favorite, like backdrops in a play, coloring the mood and atmosphere of the source material.

Which of these famous faces is the answer?

Phil: So, yeah, the art’s great, blah blah blah, but what about the gameplay?

Luke: In Similo, much like Codenames, there’s a clue-giver and there’s a guesser. The cluegiver is given a random face out of a crowd of 12 that they have to make the guesser… well, guess. Each round, the cluegiver plays a character card either up-and-down or sideways. Up-and-down means the goal card is similar to the one just played, whereas sideways means that the goal card is different.

Then, the guesser must eliminate a number of cards from the line-up depending on the round; in the first round 1, then 2, then 3, then 4, and finally 1, as there will only be 2 cards remaining. If at any point the goal card is eliminated, the game ends in failure. But if the goal card is successfully saved for the end, everyone wins!

Phil: … That’s it?

Luke: Not quite. The wrinkle here is that different themed decks can be combined to play a game. For example, players could use the Historical Figures deck for the 12 character grid and the Fables deck to provide the clues.

Different characters, Similo package.

Phil: So it’s cooperative Guess Who?.

Luke: No, no, it’s… it’s…

Phil: One player is giving information about a secret face that needs to be deduced over a certain number of rounds.

Luke: … $#!*, you’re right.

Phil: If anything, the biggest difference is there are fewer instances for your relatives to use outdated and problematic stereotypes as clues.

Luke: Now that you mention it, I have noticed that some of the same clue-types are used across multiple games. Gender is a popular determining factor for a lot of gaming groups, I find, as well as heroes/villains.

Phil: In many ways, our brains are hardwired to search for those kinds of correlations, so it makes sense. If anything, I’d be concerned about the ever-present “meta clues” that would crop up in Dixit or Mysterium, ie clues that became permanent over time, requiring a more diverse set of cards to refresh the experience.

Luke: And luckily, that is a thing that we’ll see here, as more decks are being made, such as the upcoming Myths deck.

Phil: Which is great, considering Historical Figures doesn’t work great to give clues for Puss-In-Boots or the Sea Witch.

Luke: Yeah, I definitely agree that it was an odd choice to release these 2 decks at the same time, seeing as the general relationship to one another is stretched thin. It feels like this game is aimed at more casual audiences, possibly families, so having leaders from across history seems like a hard ask for kids to recognize or easily remember.

Phil: There are brief synopses on the cards if you’re in the dark as to who someone is, but these are only marginally helpful.

Verdict: I think for family gatherings or getting kids interested in the hobby, this is a great and more accessible intro thanks to the amazing art and cooperative gameplay, plus it’s small, making it easy to travel with. Older audiences will likely tire of it after 6 or 8 plays, but if enough decks are released, we could see this having the scope and size of Timelines one day, giving it a versatility that will appeal to a wider audience.

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