Spyfall Critical Play – Blake Sharp

Name of game, creator, platform

I played Spyfall on netgames.io (https://netgames.io/games/spyfall/). From some research, it looks like the game was originally designed by Alexandr Ushan for Hobby World (https://www.spyfall.app/).

Target audience (as best you can discover from research or the games messaging)

It seems like the target audience is young adults as a party game. It is great for people who know each other well and would also work for people who don’t know each other well.

Notable elements of the game: how many players? What actions can players take? How do rounds work? Do they do anything interesting with player relationships/objectives/resources? (refer to Formal Elements for this!)

The minimum number of players is three, but the game scales well to groups of eight, ten, or even twelve. Players ask other players yes or no questions about the given location. The players answer each other, then they can ask other players yes or no questions. The spy can also reveal themselves and try to guess the location. Each round ends when either the players guess the spy, the spy guesses the location, or the timer runs out. The game is fun because it changes often who the spy is and depending on your role, your knowledge is different.

Compare the game you chose to other games in its genre. What differentiates it from the other games? Is it better/worse? How so?

In comparison to Secret Hitler, the game is much faster so you can play multiple rounds. I also think it is also less emotionally taxing than Secret Hitler because the rounds are shorter. It is also similar to Mafia, but I think more fun because it moves faster and allows more people to engage with the game.

Was the game fun? Why or why not? 

Yes! I think the game is very fun. It is fast-paced, each round the setting and roles change, and everyone is involved each round. The game is a combination of fellowship and challenge, which are great combinations for a game.

Moments of particular success or epic fails (in your opinion)

An epic fail is sometimes the game can only last one or two questions. Either someone doesn’t get it or asks a bad question or reveals themselves as the spy too early. However, the more rounds we played, the better everyone got. I think this is a major success of the game. Since the rounds are quick, bad ones are over fast and it allows people to get a lot of experience in a short amount of time.

Things you would change to make the game better 

The first thing I would change is having better instructions. I was a little confused on how to play and had to ask someone who I was playing with for help. In this vein, I think prompts or sample questions could be a nice addition to the screen where you have the list of the locations. Second, I wish there were a way to customize or add to the location list. Third, I also think it could be fun if the group were bigger, to have a main spy and two or three accomplices who are trying to throw off the rest of the non-spies. And the spy doesn’t know who the accomplices are, but the accomplices know who the spy is (like a twist from Secret Hitler).

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