Sony’s PlayLink titles are an odd bunch. The idea of enabling multiplayer party games without the need for lots of expensive controllers, whilst also taking advantage of the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets seems a no-brainer. Unfortunately the games themselves are a mixed bag of gimmicky party games with dodgy controls and games like Hidden Agenda that miss the mark. Having said that, Knowledge is Power is a popular choice with my family so the prospect of a card game collection with the same approach seemed like it would go down well.
Just Deal With It! has a distinctive aesthetic that seems heavily influenced by Tearaway. The papercraft designs clearly fit with the idea of cards, but as they add an increasingly noticeable delay between the games themselves, they only serve as an annoyance. These delays are not helped by the ludicrous accent the announcer is given and it wasn’t long before the whole presentation was greeted with a family sigh. The ‘wacky’ characters range from Grim Reapers to chirpy robots, but only the King (albeit a ropey Elvis caricature) and the Queen really seem to fit with the card aesthetic.
Once you select your avatar and take a selfie (pulling a silly face is optional but highly recommended), you get to choose from five classic card games. Included are Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em, Hearts, Crazy Eights, and Rummy. This is a pretty lacklustre range of games to be honest, not helped by the complete lack of any single player content. Obviously this is pitched as a party game, but how hard could it be to include AI opponents to practise against?
The free to download mobile app includes a passable version of Spider Solitaire, a game that is exclusive to everybody with a computer or a deck of cards, but aside from that everything must involve at least 2 players, or 3 in the case of Hearts. There is an online component but during my time reviewing not a single other person was playing online. You could arrange to play against friends, but it is hard to envisage choosing to play virtual cards rather than almost any other option on the PS4.
The various card games are all fully functional and work well for what they are, but it is difficult to see what the party mode offers over the functionality of a deck of cards other than the need for more electricity and a smaller range of games. Trophies do offer up some challenges, but these are mostly cumulative or luck based rather than involving any skill.
Really, the only notable addition to the card games is the inclusion of the bombs, enabling you to cover your opponent’s screen with smoke or goo, or force them to collect cards that they might not want. As with much of the game, though, these are more often just annoying than being particularly positive additions. Even more annoying is the presence of a timer for all moves, which is understandable in certain contexts, but not being able to disable this means that family members who are less proficient with technology will suffer unduly. This was the case with my kids and wife, not helped by the occasional glitch in the app which led to mistaken moves or missed turns altogether.
Just Deal With It! is a largely pointless virtual deck of cards that is more likely to annoy than to provide family or group entertainment. The small range of games, the overly wacky presentation and the non-existent online presence makes this an experiment that ultimately fails to improve on the simple pleasures of a deck of cards. I would recommend digging out a deck and buying a book of card games instead.