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WEREWOLVES WITHIN Brings Deceptive Fun to a VR Party Game (Review)

WEREWOLVES WITHIN Brings Deceptive Fun to a VR Party Game (Review)

Meeting up with friends online takes on a whole new meaning in virtual reality. Red Storm Entertainment’s Werewolves Within is an online multiplayer party game that takes advantage of this new tech’s ability to bring friends who’re hundreds of miles away from each other into the same room. It’s the sort of experience that should really start to excite those who have invested in these headsets.

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The game is pretty simple; you sit around a campfire with four to seven of your friends (or strangers) as villagers of Gallowston. But, not all of those around you can be trusted. As the name suggests, there are Werewolves among you. The goal is to figure out which one of your mates is really a werewolf in villager’s clothing by talking to each other, and sharing information given to them through special abilities (more on that in a bit). Then at the end you vote for the person that you think is the fanged beast to thwart their disguise. Everyone who’s not a beast will assume one of nine different roles, each with a special ability that’ll change how each game is played. For example, the villager can vote for the ringleader, who in turn will get double the voting power when trying to guess who the werewolf is. A tracker, on the other hand, can lean in one direction or another to sense whether a werewolf is nearby.

Each match lasts approximately seven minutes, with most of the time being spent with everyone discussing what their role is (you must decide if they’re telling the truth or not) and trying to deceive one another. There’s also an added twist with the roles of turn-cloaks who are trying to help the Werewolves win the match. Furthermore, there are saints who can learn the identity of the werewolves, but must be careful because the fanged deceivers win if they all vote for the saint at the end of the match. You even get a list of possible roles present in each match, so that you can do your best to figure out who is lying. So, if three people say they’re villagers, but there are only two possible villagers, one is obviously lying–you need to find out why. These intricacies make for some hilariously good times.

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Once I was acclimated with most of the roles, I began to use that knowledge to my advantage. By claiming to be a tracker, I stated that to my left there was a werewolf, knowing full-well that I was a werewolf and so was the person to my right. But since some of the group had already started to suspect a person to my left, deceiving the group was easy. I did it so well that I was even appointed the Ringleader. By the end of the game, I’d tricked everyone into ignoring me and my other werewolf friend, thus, giving us the win. Just as a warning, it does take a few games to really understand how everything works, but there is a handy virtual book you can pull out at any moment in the game to look at the roles and your abilities.

What makes the game so immersive and a better social experience is the variety of ways the avatars react in the world while having discussions/arguments. The more demonstrative you speak into your mic, the more your characters hands and arms will begin to move around. The avatar’s mouth will also move according to your speech. This makes it so much easier to get into your role and forget that you’re in the virtual space. There are even emotes you can map to your controller for some zesty trolling or celebrations. The ability to lean towards one another to “whisper” is also a nice touch as you can share information with someone sitting next to you without everyone else hearing you. My favorite however, is the ability to stand up (using the controller, you don’t really have to stand) to give a monologue, and it will shut everyone else up. This sort of social interaction isn’t something you see in online multiplayer games these days.

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When everyone buys in, and starts to embrace their roles and the deception, that’s where the game really starts to shine. It was the best when everyone was almost shouting, pointing out inconsistencies in each other’s stories. This is, however, a double-edged sword; because the gameplay plays out in the same manner, your fun will depend on others. This isn’t much of a problem when you’re playing with friends, but it could potentially become a stale experience if strangers aren’t into it. But you will find that strangers are more likely to loosen up with the anonymity of having a virtual avatar.

The most glaring and obvious restriction to the game is the fact that you need at least four other friends with a VR headset to get the best experience out of it. And you have to keep in mind that this is strictly an online multiplayer experience (honestly, it wouldn’t work offline). The good news is that it’s cross platform, making it easier to get a group together. Another small gripe comes from the amount of avatars. For a game that’s all about the social experience, there sure aren’t a lot of different characters. And it might also be nice to be able to create your own.

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It’s also important to note that like other party games, this won’t be something you’ll be playing constantly. It really is a Friday night game-night type of experience. With enough play, this will get less exciting, which is expected with most party games.

The Verdict

Werewolves Within is a great party game based on deception, taking inspiration from other party games that haven’t appeared in VR. As strange as it may seem to have this sort of game on the new tech, it actually works well and brings a new flavor to VR. If you can get a group of friends (or even strangers) to join you, arguing and shouting, trying to figure out who the werewolf is, you’ll be in for a fun night. I do hope we see more games like this in VR, because it works incredibly well.

RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS

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This review was completed using a PS4 copy of Werewolves Within provided by Ubisoft. The game is currently available on all major VR platforms.

Images: Ubisoft

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