Can’t Say That deftly mixes the game play of Taboo with the cadence and UI of Draw Something.

Players select one of three words (of varying difficulty) and they must get their partner to guess the word by writing out a series of clues (in the 36 spaces provided), but without using any of words in the list of five forbidden words. Your partner is given a series of blank spaces and a pool of twelve scrambled letters to use to formulate their guess. If your partner guesses correctly, then you both earn the number of coins allocated to the difficulty-level of the word. Play is turn-based and your partner can be a Facebook friends (who also owns the game), a random opponent, or if you don’t have a Facebook account, you can sign up using your email address.

Earned coins can be traded in to purchase power-up packs including hints which let you take a peak at one of the forbidden words, letters which give you one of the correct letters in the word you are trying to guess and categories which reveal the category of the word you are trying to guess. Alternatively, the coins can also be used to purchase additional word packs to freshen up game play. If you get the FREE version of the game, there are ads, while the paid version ($2.99) is ad-free and comes with 500 coins, which is enough to buy several power-up packs or a new word pack. The ads are not too annoying, but it will take a while to earn enough coins to purchase a word pack…around 130+ rounds of hard 3-coin words to be exact.

Adopting a “why reinvent the wheel” mentality, Fugazo has chosen a game layout and UI flow that very closely resembles that of mega-hit Draw Something. I can’t fault them for going with a system that they know works and that iOS gamers should have no problems adopting, but I would have liked to see a little more creativity here. It is actually a little delicious irony that some part of a Zynga-owned game is being mimicked (though this game is by no means a Draw Something clone, as there is no drawing element whatsoever).

Despite the fact that one game expressly forbids words and the other relies on them, since Draw Something and Can’t Say That are so similar in their format and workflow it’s impossible NOT to compare them. In April Draw Something added a much desired comment system which allowed players to send short messages to their partner to say “nice job!, etc. Needless to say, I was a little surprised that since Can’t Say That was just released in July, that there is no such feature. It’s obvious that the team at Fugazo are fans of Draw Something, so I would have expected them to see the benefit of including such a feature before launching their game.

There is no denying that Can’t Say ThatTaboo and the idea of not having to arrange a group of people to meet up in the same room get that experience is great. The game is well executed and runs smoothly. Plus, since it’s a universal app, you can start a game on the iPad and play on the go from your iPhone. I did have some initial issues with non-responsive gaming partners never taking their first turn, but now I have some good regular games going. An auto-forfeit feature for non-responsive players would be a welcome addition in a future update.

As far as longevity goes, I think this is really subjective. Ultimately for me, cooperative play can only go so far before my competitive nature wins out. I eventually get bored with seeing how long we can “keep the ball up” and just want to move onto other things. Much like I did with Draw Something, my immediate reaction to Can’t Say That was one of joy and “can’t get enough” play, but that starts to fade fairly quickly with the inherent repetitive nature of the game. While the words themselves haven’t repeated, the gameplay starts to get stale and could use some interim goals or challenges to give it a boost. In order for Can’t Say That to have a longer life than Draw Something did (does anyone still even play it?) Fugazo really needs to come up with some sort of competive gameplay element, like letting two-person teams compete against one another.

In Conclusion

Can’t Say That is approachable and instantly familiar. If you are a fan of the board game Taboo, Draw Something or word games in general, you probably already know how to play and you are definitely going to want to at least check out the FREE version of the game. Even the most difficult words generally won’t require the use of hints, but I suppose that ultimately that will depend on how good your partner is at giving clues. Can’t Say That offers up a fun way to have shared gaming experiences with friends and keep your brain exercised.