Critical Play: We’re Not Really Strangers


We’re Not Really Strangers is a purpose driven card game with three levels, Perception, Connection and Reflection, which allow the players to deepen existing relationships and create new ones through having players answering questions and performing actions under the guidance of the cards. For this critical play, I played the online version of this game with my partner: We’re Not Really Strangers: Play it free on your device. We went through both the OG deck and the Relationship deck.

Formal Elements

Players: 2-6 players are suggested. For my gameplay, the number of players is 2.

Rules: Players take turns to answer questions shown on the screen – the name of the player to answer the card will be shown on the screen. If a wild card is being drawn by a player, the partner of the player indicated on the screen must complete the instructions unless otherwise stated. There are three levels. After completing 15 cards on a level, the players could pick the next level.

Objectives: This is not a competitive game, and it is meant to foster connection and cooperation among players, to encourage players getting to know each other. I feel this could somehow be also considered as having the “exploration” objective, since it allows players to explore their relationships and vulnerabilities with each other.

Outcome: This is not a zero-sum game, since this is not about winning/losing.

Boundaries: The game creates a safe space in which the players are free to share their vulnerabilities with each other.


In this game, we are constantly learning. Due to its “exploration” objective, the players are constantly exploring each other’s internal world: how they perceive others, connect with each other, as well as reflecting upon themselves. The constant “wild card” also disrupts the pattern and introduces something fresh to the game as the game proceeds.

As a social game, the major kinds of fun comes from fellowship, discovery and expression. The aesthetics goal of fellowship is achieved through the question prompts in the game that encourages each player to share their thoughts and feelings with each other, as well as lacking any traditional score system that urges players to compete with each other. Since the questions are mostly open-ended questions allowing players to freely express and elaborate on, and there’s no time pressure for players while they are answering the questions, the game invites players onto a journey of self-discovery. Allowing players to freely choose their level based on their own degree of comfort also facilitates expression. Since modern day people seldom share their thought and feelings with each other honestly and openly, the format of a game and the safe space it created allows people to freely discover each other’s internal world as well.

Why this game works, and possible improvements

I feel the major reason why this game works so well is because of the safe space it creates. Such safe space is enhanced by its amazing visual design, with simplistic usage of colors and choices of fonts. I love the handwritten fonts for each player’s name especially, for it conveys a sense of casualness and intimacy. 

I really enjoy the main deck, but I have a couple of suggestions for the relationship deck. Compared to the main deck, the relationship deck has fewer questions, especially for the reflection level. I feel a good question that encourages people to open up needs to find a balance between generality and specificity. A question that is too general, like this:

would be harder for the player to answer meaningfully. The level 3 for the relationship deck mostly consists of these questions, and I feel that if it could use some of the questions from OG deck level 3, it would be even more interesting.

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