Awkward Turtle Review: Laughter or Discomfort?


Awkward Turtle Review

Ever heard of a game daring you to steer clear of conventional descriptions while dealing with words like “Stethoscope”? That’s Awkward Turtle for you – an intriguing twist to your regular party games. In a spontaneous stroke of generosity (or so we thought at the time), my friend managed to snag a copy for free, and we thought, “Why not give this turtle a whirl?”

As board game enthusiasts start scouring for refreshing party games for the upcoming summer soirees, I felt the timing apt to present my two cents and write this Awkward Turtle review. The game pledges a roller coaster of hilarity, testing your skills in devising crafty associations to elicit those befuddling words. Regrettably, our ride proved less thrilling than we had hoped. It’s not that the turtle didn’t try; it just couldn’t quite hit the mark.

Just The Facts

Key FactDetails
Game TitleAwkward Turtle
DesignerDawson Cowals
PublisherDa Vinci’s Room
ThemeWord Guessing
GenreParty Game
Target AudienceTeens, Adults
Age Range17+
Number of Players4-6
Game Duration30-60 Minutes
Complexity LevelLow
Game ObjectiveGuess the most words correctly to win
Difficulty LevelLow
Similar GamesTaboo, Codenames
Release Date2014

Game Overview

In the realm of party games, the Awkward Turtle provides a unique twist to traditional word-guessing fun. Devised by Dawson Cowals, the game mandates players to communicate complex, often outlandish and/or crude words without resorting to conventional descriptions. The crux of the game revolves around the strategy of eliciting the right word from teammates via crafty and inventive associations. However, with words like “Gargantuan” or “Stethoscope” thrown into the mix, the road to victory often proves to be humorously complex, hence the name Awkward Turtle.

Mechanically, the game structure is uncomplicated. Players divide into teams, one player draws a word card, and the ensuing race against time begins. The player must describe the word to their team without using any portion of the word itself. Each correct guess earns a point for the team, and the game continues until one team achieves a predetermined point total. Despite the simplicity of the structure, Awkward Turtle attempts to deliver an experience packed with tension and hilarity, although it stumbles in a few significant areas.

Components and Artwork

The Awkward Turtle game box packs 352 cards with words printed on them, which, at first glance, feels generous. However, the card quality is mediocre at best, with thin paper-stock that bends and creases easily. It feels like a missed opportunity, especially considering the repeated handling these cards will endure in each session.

In terms of artwork, Awkward Turtle doesn’t offer much. The game is all about the words, with little to no graphical illustrations on the cards or the game box. This minimalistic design choice works in some games, but in the case of Awkward Turtle, it results in an aesthetically bland experience. Some thematic illustrations or creative typography could have significantly elevated the game’s visual appeal, making it more inviting for newcomers and ensuring that it stands out in a crowded market.

Gameplay Experience

Setting up Awkward Turtle is swift and straightforward. Teams are formed, a point total is agreed upon, and the game is ready to roll. In theory, the simplicity is appealing, especially for a party game. Yet, it’s also where the game starts revealing its limitations.

While the core mechanic of guessing words is enjoyable initially, the limited gameplay variety hampers long-term engagement. With no other mechanisms to shake things up, gameplay can feel monotonous, almost robotic after a few rounds. Furthermore, the word selection in Awkward Turtle leans heavily towards English language oddities, which can create an unwelcome barrier for players not well-versed in unusual or complex vocabulary.

The balance between strategy, luck, and player interaction is also uneven. Luck plays a considerable role due to the randomness of the drawn cards. In contrast, the scope for strategy is restricted to the skill of describing and interpreting clues, leaving little room for tactical maneuvers or innovative gameplay.

Theme and Immersion

Given that Awkward Turtle is a word-based party game, a robust theme isn’t the expectation. However, the game’s theme feels tacked-on and doesn’t enhance the gameplay experience. The premise of an “awkward turtle” stumbling over complex words may sound amusing initially, but it lacks depth and fails to immerse players in any meaningful way.

Narrative elements or storytelling aspects are entirely absent, which, although not uncommon in this genre, can result in a lack of engagement. In the end, the game’s immersion factor relies heavily on the players’ inherent enthusiasm and camaraderie, not on any captivating elements within the game itself.


Awkward Turtle promises a moderate level of replayability. With 352 word cards, the game indeed offers different experiences with each playthrough. However, it’s a double-edged sword. While the game can be enjoyed multiple times without encountering repeat words, the complexity and obscurity of some words can be off-putting for players seeking a light, casual gaming experience.

There’s a notable lack of variability elements such as random events or modular boards. The game could greatly benefit from additional mechanics or gameplay modifiers to create more dynamic and variable play sessions.

Player Interaction and Engagement

As a team-based party game, Awkward Turtle relies heavily on player interaction. Cooperation and communication are essential as teams strive to describe and guess words accurately. These aspects work well, driving players to engage with each other and promoting a lively gaming atmosphere.

On the flip side, the lack of variety and depth can undermine long-term player engagement. The initial enthusiasm often wanes after a few rounds, leaving players craving more substance or innovation. While it’s a decent ice-breaker game, Awkward Turtle struggles to maintain player interest throughout an entire game session.

Learning Curve and Accessibility

In terms of learning curve, Awkward Turtle is exceptionally beginner-friendly. The rules are straightforward and easy to grasp, even for those new to board games. However, the game’s accessibility is marred by its heavy reliance on understanding complex and unusual vocabulary. Non-native English speakers or younger players may find this game challenging, despite its simplicity.

The game does not offer any tutorials, rulebooks, or player aids to facilitate the learning process. This isn’t a major issue, given the game’s simplicity, but it doesn’t help the game’s accessibility issues.

Strategies, Tactics and Tips

  • It’s crucial to know your team members and tailor your clues to their knowledge base.
  • Be creative with your descriptions. Use indirect references or examples to elicit the correct guesses.
  • Keeping an eye on the timer. It’s better to pass a hard word than waste precious time.
  • Communicate effectively. Clarity trumps complexity in this game.


There are no expansions available for Awkward Turtle. The base game is all there is, for better or worse.

Comparison to Similar Games

Compared to its contemporaries like Taboo or Codenames, Awkward Turtle falls short. While it shares the same basic word-guessing mechanic, it lacks the depth, variety, and innovative gameplay elements that these other games offer.

In terms of target audience and preferences, Awkward Turtle caters to players looking for a light, straightforward party game. However, its reliance on obscure vocabulary can deter casual gamers or non-native English speakers. In contrast, Taboo and Codenames are more accessible and offer a more balanced gameplay experience.

Hits and Misses


  • Easy to learn and play.
  • Encourages communication and cooperation.
  • Can be humorous and entertaining in short bursts.


  • Poor quality components.
  • Minimalistic, bland artwork.
  • Lack of gameplay depth and variety.
  • Over-reliance on obscure and sometimes crude vocabulary.
  • Limited replayability due to lack of gameplay modifiers.
  • Fails to keep players engaged throughout a session.

Awkward Turtle Review: Final Thoughts and Verdict

To sum it up, Awkward Turtle is a game that offers a few laughs and a straightforward gameplay mechanism. Its simplicity and party-game nature might attract some players looking for a casual, cooperative experience. However, it falls short on many fronts – from component quality and aesthetic appeal to gameplay depth and variety.

The game’s over-reliance on obscure vocabulary can be a barrier for many players, restricting its appeal to a more niche audience. If you’re a seasoned gamer seeking innovation, strategy, or depth, this might not be the game for you. If you’re a lover of words and don’t mind the game’s limitations, then Awkward Turtle may provide a few hours of fun. But with numerous superior alternatives in the market, it’s hard to recommend this game enthusiastically.

Our final score is 4 out of 10. Awkward Turtle could be a fit for some specific audiences or situations, but generally, it leaves a lot to be desired.

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