Critical Play: One Night Ultimate Werewolf

For my critical play, I played One Night Ultimate Werewolf, developed by Bezier Games for mobile, or in-person. It targets audiences above the age of 8, for people who like games involving deeper logic, deduction, and deceit, as well as audiences that want a quick, easy-to-digest but hard to master game. It is also a game that can be played many times with different variations.

ONUW is played with at least 3 players up to 29. Within a round, players are given a role from a deck decided beforehand by the group of players. Based on a set order of roles, players will wake up during the night and perform an action if they have one. Some players on the werewolf side pick who they can kill, some players have the power to view others’ cards or swap cards between the chosen set, other players’ cards, and other players have more unique roles. At the end of all players’ turns, players use up time to deliberate on who might be on the werewolves’ side and try to vote on someone that is a werewolf. Other boundaries within the game include following the storyteller’s lead, if there is one, ignoring indications of what sides people are on that are not explicitly given by the player (ex: not looking at their cards or averting your gaze when looking at their phone), as well not forcing others to reveal their identity during certain setups of the game.

ONUW is interesting as it plays with game objectives at the beginning of the round- if there were roles that required switching cards, players end up with roles that they did not initially start off as. Thus, players must first deduce who and what team they are on- essentially playing against the game, before joining a team vs team relationship and trying to outwit the other team.

This game adds deeper levels of deduction due to its unique roles, versus other games in its genre such as Mafia, Among Us, or regular Werewolf. Whereas Among Us uses primarily deceit and observation, and Werewolf and Mafia rely on story elements, there are always ways you can pick up on who people might be in One Night due to the variety of factors you can deduce (order of roles, which roles are safe to reveal, what people can/will lie about, who each person knows). This makes this game much more about strategic thinking and logic versus the other games within its genre. The heavier logic focus of this game means it is a game more suited for people that like logic puzzles with an added social bonus, versus the other games, which lean more heavily on social aspects and storytelling. It’s not necessarily better or worse- just operates with a different audience. Since I personally like games like these that rely heavily on deduction, I prefer ONUW over the other games within its genre. I really enjoyed this game as it was a huge brain twister to try to figure out what could be deduced during the round, and also how to get that information without letting others know any aspects of the role you’re trying to hide.

One moment of failure was that since my group was so used to playing regular Werewolf, we thought that werewolves in this game also killed villagers when this was not the case. Since we were also using the online version, this led to us believing that since no one had died that night, no one was the werewolf. This fundamental misunderstanding of the game led us to spend a couple of rounds just trying to figure out if the game was running correctly.

Similarly, some people preferred a much simpler game (with primarily villagers and a couple of special roles) while others wanted roles that involved switching roles around to complicate matters. This led everyone to want different paces of the game and disagree on what kinds of roles they wanted in the game since there were so many different types.

An aspect of the game I would be interested in engaging in more of would be storytelling. In Mafia, since there are fewer specific roles and things to deduce about who’s who, people would often bring in meta elements to accuse people of being suspicious (ex: they’re wearing a red shirt which they could have used to clean up blood). This would often take the game to a completely different plane. Thus, adding in extra encouragement to drive storytelling gives players another way to interact with the game if they so wished. In order to do this, I would add recommended pods of roles to try as a storytelling guide- there was a heavy focus on the deduction of the game during our gameplay, and as a result, we only used the role names and actions for what they were without engaging in the story aspect. This also had to do with the lack of a storyteller since we were playing a mobile version-it made it hard to sink into the story of the game. Adding batches of suggested roles and a related narration would simplify decisions on what roles to play, especially for new players, and also allow players to, once deduction ran out, engage in the story aspect of the game to keep the conversation and a storyline flowing.

An in-game screen of ONUW- displaying the roles we chose that night (1 werewolf, 3 villagers, 1 tanner, 1 hunter, and 1 prince)
An in-game screenshot

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