Ubisoft provides a good single and co-op experience in its video game version of the classic card game Uno, but fails to become the hit party game the physical game can be.
Although playing card video games may bring Hearthstone or Gwent to mind, there’s no doubt that most fans of traditional card games have a fond recollection of Uno. The classic 2-4 player card game can be over in mere minutes or last for hours, depending on players’ hands and luck, and it still appeals to new players decades after its initial release. It comes as no surprise that Ubisoft’s Uno isn’t the card game’s first incarnation as a video game, but the video game still has to face a significant challenge: Can it introduce new players to the franchise while offering a challenge to existing Uno fans and simultaneously improve upon the last console generation’s version?
For those who are unfamiliar with Uno, the basics are fairly simple. Players are dealt seven cards with numbers ranging from 0 to 9, and in the colors of red, blue, green, and yellow. In addition, a select number of cards that force the next player to draw two or four cards from the deck and Wild cards that forcibly change the current deck’s “color.” After the first card is dealt from the deck, the players take turns putting down a card from their hand with either a matching color or number. The player who calls “Uno” upon reaching one card and then manages to play the last card before anyone else is the winner.
The new Ubisoft Uno game does a good job of replicating the basic Uno gameplay, and offers some unique theme cards, but there are some frustrating limitations. Gamers can choose between a solo match against three AI competitors, a co-op match with an AI, in-person companion or online friend, or take place on a 4-way online battle with three other players. The included in-game rule book should make the game understandable for new players, as well as offering an overview of house rules that seasoned players may not be familiar with. Gameplay with the AI bots as well as a human co-op partner performed smoothly, with no major lag between moves or gameplay glitches occurring.
Unfortunately, gamers lack the opportunity to face off against in-person players. This is most likely due to the fact that keeping one’s cards secret in Uno is a necessity, and the PS4 and Xbox One lack any way to keep local hands private. Unfortunately, it seems Ubisoft doesn’t seem to have any plans to release Uno for the Nintendo Wii U either, where two players could potentially play against each other keeping their cards private on the Wii U GamePad.
Ubisoft made a good choice in bringing back the house rules functionality that was available in the Xbox 360 and PS3 iteration of Uno, which allows players to change up the game significantly. The Uno card game can be played in many different ways depending on which version of the rules players follow, and Ubisoft’s Uno is similarly flexible, allowing maneuvers like trading hands with another player or playing out of turn. While these changes may not seem tremendously significant, anyone who has played traditional Uno knows that tweaking even the slightest facet of the rules can significantly alter the challenge of the game.
Returning from the Xbox 360 iteration of Uno is the ability to voice and video chat during online matches. However, Ubisoft has removed the ability to video chat with strangers in this version. This isn’t a huge surprise, since Carbonated Games’ version of Uno gained a negative reputation due to random lewd players appearing on the video chat and rendering the game anything but E-rated.
Overall, Ubisoft’s Uno does a good job of replicating the original card game as a video game, and it’s a good option for players who want to play with friends that aren’t close to home, but its shortcomings for in-person players means it definitely doesn’t qualify as a party game. Friends can still potentially have a lot of fun in-person taking down the AI as a team, though, and courtesy of the removal of video chatting with complete strangers, it should be a safer choice for kids, too.
Uno is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a Xbox One code for this review.