Voight-Kampff ‘Em Up: Between The City And The Needle

Between The City and The Needle is a “conversation simulation game” about detecting terrifying aliens in human form. Under the guise of psychological testing, you will interview forty suspects who may or may not be creatures from another planet. You will decide whether they are allowed to leave the interview alive or whether they will be executed so that their skin-suit can be peeled back revealing…well, hopefully there’ll be an alien tucked inside because otherwise you are just the worst. Trailer below.

I love the idea of a whole game based around conversations and deception. If the writing is strong, Between The City and The Needle could be quite a harrowing and disturbing thing, not just because of the alien threat but because of the psychological setting. The player is attempting to discern whether these people are human but is doing so from a position of power, having brought the interviewees to a government facility to undergo psychological analysis. It’ll be interesting to see if the game explores the difficulties of distinguishing between extraordinary human behaviour and alien subterfuge. Will the aliens be recognisably alien because of their refusal to deviate from established social norms?

The two people behind the game are planning a crowdfunding campaign in the near future and we should learn more about the workings of the conversation system then. Beyond the actual interviews, there are colleagues to interact with and secrets to uncover in the facility itself.

Use the electronic messaging system at your terminal to communicate with co-workers. As your personality is defined by how you play, expect NPCs who act similarly to yourself to reach out to you.

Experience the innerworkings of the facility. Can you uncover its secrets, decrypt documents and hack into hidden files?

Feel the ramifications of your actions in 1 of 9 different endings determined by your choices and approach to handling the crisis.

I am intrigued.


  1. Wowbagger says:

    Sounds like a great idea – I’d prefer a blade runner style find the android test though.

  2. Ansob says:

    You know, “aliens are coming here and seemlessly integrating with our culture and behaving like fine, upstanding members of society, which is why we need to mercilessly hunt them down and murder them” is a message that has some unfortunate connotations in the current political climate.

    Hopefully this pulls a Papers, Please and gives you the option to help the aliens.

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      Adam Smith says:

      Agreed. The stuff about hacking facility files and uncovering secrets suggests that, at the very least, the government machinery is going to have some dirt and grease between the cogs.

      • Timbrelaine says:

        The project is called the “Humanity Purification Protocol” and is concerned with preventing “the contamination of our species”. Tomorrow’s forecast: cloudy with a chance of nazis.

    • solidsquid says:

      With them describing the aliens as taking “a foul mockery” of human form when they’re completely indistinguishable, and talking about them “contaminating” humanity, I suspect there’s going to be something else going on in the background. Definitely looks interesting though, how you define someone as “human” when you have non-human sentients/sapients is a really interesting question

    • P.Funk says:

      Eh, its this default response that makes me specifically want a game that deliberately avoids tip toeing around the modern political climate. Blade Runner had its moments but at the same time the protagonist never really let up on his hunt. It wasn’t exactly like the Replicants were saints either.

      Its just as hasty to assume that snooping out the aliens is the result of an oppressive society as it is to assume that the aliens are up to no good. In fact I’d take this entire characterization of the “unfortunate connotations” as being entirely based on a particular bent. One could just as easily, with a different interpretation of the current climate, view the hunting down of apparently law abiding citizens who mean to do no good as being very admirable, depending on where you stand.

      Last thing I’m interested in is a diluted default message of peace love and understanding. That basically guts it automatically because we all know that the world is a much messier place, and thats why Blade Runner works so well, because its not about good vs. evil and the good guy winning in the end. Now… can a little game like this begin to tell a story that nuanced? That intrigues me.

      None of that of course meant to be a personal attack or “j’accuse” or any some such. Just conversation.

    • Eightball says:

      You can tell real world aliens apart from their host countrymen pretty easily, as opposed to this game where it (seems to be) very difficult.

  3. Anthile says:

    Cue Under the Skin soundtrack.

  4. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Inevitable plot twist: you were an alien all along!

    Looks cool, very Papers, please!

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      that was my guess based on that we see eyelids in the trailer, (you know, blinking makes the aliens look human, but they are not used to it so they “see” it.)

  5. BTAxis says:

    I would be terrible at this. How am I supposed to know what’s normal human behavior?

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    FhnuZoag says:

    You know, this would be great as a premise for a multiplayer game. Randomly pair up interrogators with subjects, with the subjects handed a card saying whether they are human or alien.

    • abardam says:

      Spyfall, with a little re-theming, could be pretty close! The premise is that all players are at the same location: a ship, a bar, a hospital, etc., except that one player, the spy, does not know where he/she is. From there, players then ask each other questions, with the objective of either discovering the location (as the spy), or outing the spy.

  7. silentdan says:

    Until it includes a full-screen close-up of a subject’s furtively-shifting eye, it’s half-finished.