One needs real guile to pretend to be as stupid as a background NPC. Can you mill about seemingly at random while still accomplishing goals? Can you fool someone else trying to catch you at? You may think I’m asking about Spy Party but no, I’m thinking of other new-ish games floating around at the moment. Both are competitive local multiplayer games where all players are pretending to be NPCs while trying to sniff out and murder the others. Contact Cowboy is a free two-player same-keyboard game, while Thief Town is paid but more elaborate. I’ll explain.
So, Contact Cowboy puts both players in a room with a small crowd of pixel people. One, armed with a knife, needs to collect a bomb, plant it on a statue, then rendezvous with their contact, a cowboy. The other, armed with a gun, needs to stop them first. Though you’ll need to figure out which pixel person is you first, and ideally which is your enemy. Pixel people mill about aimlessly, so you need to fake that until you’re ready to move. You can watch the other person’s hands, sure, but can you watch the screen at the same time?
Made for the latest Ludum Dare game jam by Jonothan Rubock, the chap behind interstellar panic simulator System Status 100, Contact Cowboy was released for free this morning, playable in your browser.
Thief Town, meanwhile, is a more elaborate affair. 2-4 players are thrown into wild western towns filled with identical characters, trying to kill each other across several modes. One’s straight-up bluff-o-murdering, one adds gadgets like smoke bombs and teleporters, and one has a lone sheriff sniffing out the unarmed others. It’s local multiplayer-only too but a bit more liberal, supporting multiple controllers, LAN and local WiFi, and even pocket telephones. I suppose you might be able to trick it with LAN emulators to play online, but pssh.
Glass Knuckle Games first released Thief Town in September, but it came to my attention through its Steam release last week. It’s £1.86 on Steam, thanks to a launch discount, £2.99 on the Humble Store, or $3.99 (£2.50) direct from the devs. They have a silly trailer too: