The holidays are in full swing now, and as with any holiday season you can count on two things: the spirit of giving and Christmas-themed gaming. But unlike most holiday-themed releases, Gift of the Yeti embraces both of these sentiments and offers a heaping helping of holiday charity along with its arcade-style fun.
In Gift of the Yeti, dear old Santa Claus has fallen ill (a batch of bad egg nog, or so the story goes) and can't deliver presents this year. Luckily the jolly old man has a good friend he can call on to take his place: the yeti. Your job is to guide the monstrous gift-giver as he delivers presents throughout town, all while avoiding the police and returning to your yeti caves to restock your bag full of gifts.
Despite being a fast-paced arcade-style romp, Controls and concepts in Gift of the Yeti don't require lightning fast reflexes or a tremendous amount of focus. To guide the yeti, you'll just click on an arrow to decide which street he should go down next. The yeti travels from intersection to intersection and delivers presents to all the houses with lights on. The more lit houses you visit in a row, the higher your score multiplier.
Like all good Facebook games, that score multiplier plays a big part in how you'll succeed, because you're going to be competing against your friends for points. Each round lasts for only 90 seconds, so you'll need to click quickly if you want to beat Donna from accounting or your cousin Billy and have the highest score on your friends leaderboard.
In terms of social gameplay, it's a shame that there's not more here. As great a platform as Facebook has become for social experiences, this really felt like something that might have benefited greatly from a low-priced PC download or console release. Playing Gift of the Yeti competitively against your friends, all racing around on the same board to try and get to the lit houses before everyone else on the map could have made for a fun and frantic multiplayer experience. This seems to be one of those rare times when a Facebook release has hampered rather than harnessed a game's social possibilities.
Still, the game focuses on a truly social concept that dates back to the days long before Facebook, MySpace, and even the printed word: charity. Every time you play Gift of the Yeti, developer BioWare will donate a penny to Child's Play, the geek-oriented charity organization with a heart of gold. Child's Play uses it's gaming charities to raise money to fund hospitals for sick kids worldwide, and BioWare will stick to that pledge of a penny a play until it reaches its goal of $10,000.
Gift of the Yeti is a fun little holiday diversion to help you eat up the minutes of your day while helping out a terrific cause. It's simple, it's fun, and it's chalked full of holiday spirit. Everything from the cartoony visuals to the cheerily festive soundtrack will get you in a merry mood. Missed multiplayer possibilities aside, this is a cute little title that failed to disappoint. Make some hot cocoa, take a break from carolling, and give the yeti a hand this Christmas.