If there is one thing I’m always keeping an eye out for, it’s new and innovative tabletop games. Who doesn’t want to sit down at a table and be wowed by the originality of what you are playing? And that’s what first caught my eye with Blinks. It’s not so much a game, but a game system. These colorful, computer-controlled pucks not only have a variety of games built into them, but also the ability to learn games from each other. The future has apparently arrived.
Blinks is a hard game to explain because it’s not just one game, but a whole gaming system. Each puck, called a Blink, has a single game programmed into it. These range from very simple “Simon” type games, to dexterity flicking games, to more complex games where you are stealing life from your opponent’s pieces to keep yourself alive. In our testing, we tried almost a dozen different games with a massive range of play styles and complexity. So I’m not even going to begin to try and explain how they all work. You can, however, find summaries and instructions for all the Blinks games here.
But the basics of it is that once you’ve chosen a game, you hold down the Blink and attach it to any number of other Blinks. Once you do, they will teach every other Blink in the chain the chosen game. This process is infinitely expandable to as many Blinks as you have (or can afford).
The games all rely on a system of light on top of the Blink, which has the ability to change color and also show different colors in different sections. The sides are also magnetic and attach to each other with a satisfying “snap”.
No matter what I say in this review, it won’t do the Blinks system justice. This is one of those things where you really just have to experience it. Sure, I can tell you that the games are cool, easy to learn, and highly portable. But until you sit down in a darkened room and watch the system come to life, it’s really hard to take in everything that Blinks has to offer.
After showing the games to a number of different people, almost everyone responded that the games were much cooler than the expected. My wife kicked some butt at Wham, which is essentially Wack-a-Mole, and loved every minute of it (here is a quick video of it in action). I played Mortals with one of my fellow BGQ Reviewers, which is a tactical game of trying to keep your Blinks alive, and before we knew it, we had play 5 games in a row!
The technology behind the Blinks works really well, with only the occasional hiccups of trying to get things to sync up. The biggest downside I saw with the games is trying to learn all their rules. The Blinks travel well in a “sushi roll” style case but there isn’t really a good spot for the rule book. Fortunately, once you get to know a game, you probably don’t need the rulebook. But what would be great would be for publisher Move 38 to have a mobile phone app where I can easily access the rules of any game. Right now you can access PDFs or videos on their website, but it’s a little clunky on your phone. Something like that would solve a big pain point with the Blinks system.
The other thing to note is the Blinks aren’t cheap, which is to be expected for all that tech in one spot. The price is a bit more than most people are probably used to playing for filler games. Yet the good thing is that each Blink you get only makes the experience better. So if you get the core set and later down the line, they release one game you really like, you can buy that one and add it to the ones you have.
I was really surprised by just how fun and impressive the Blinks system was. The games are simple and quick, and the implementation was pretty fantastic. The Blinks have a great tactile feel to them, and most of the games were easy to jump into and start playing. While not every game is going to be for everyone, most people should easily be able to find one or two in the sets to their liking. I do hope they start selling games individually in the future so people can just pick up the ones that are the most interesting to them. I also hope that the publisher ends up releasing a mobile app that will explain the rules of every game, which would make it much easier to take Blinks on the go.
And for those more technically inclined, there is also info on their website for a developer kit, which makes me excited for the future of the system when more people get into it.
Final Score: 4 Stars – Blinks is an incredibly cool and unique product. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for these.
• Would love for an app to house all the rules
• Needs darkness to play well