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SpyParty infiltrates Early Access after nearly a decade

The best spies are patient

Good things come to those who wait, and everyone I've talked to who has been lucky enough to try Chris Hecker's SpyParty has plenty of complimentary things to say about the 1v1 multiplayer game of social infiltrator vs observant sniper. Think you can spot a single human player in the middle of a crowd of AI entities? Hold your breath, because you've only got one guess.

If you've managed to miss SpyParty doing it's rounds across trade-shows, streams and magazines over the past few years, then I feel the best possible description came from former RPS'er Pip, who defined it as 'a reverse turing test game'. One player, a spy, is tasked with completing several objectives at a cocktail party full of NPCs playing out their routines. The other player, a sniper with a single bullet to spare, needs to observe, study and decide who's the human in the middle of a crowd of robots. The spy wins if they complete their mission, or the sniper picks the wrong target.

It's a simple concept on paper, but apparently very challenging to play effectively. The better you learn to play the Spy, the better you learn your own human weaknesses, and how to spot them as the Sniper and vice versa. You're practically playing poker against your own knowledge of the mechanics every time you play, and identifying human quirks or twitches that in any other game you'd chalk up to glitchy AI are a surefire sign that you're on to the right target.

Adam recently interviewed SpyParty creator Chris Hecker. It's well worth a read, going into the finer points of the game's extensive development cycle, and how nearly a decade of development has shaped it as playtesters have come and gone. One issue that I've seen brought up is that learning the game is often difficult for a new player, as the current crop of experienced pros are experts at both hiding and spotting, but that should be mitigated somewhat by the Early Access launch, which is hopefully bringing in some fresh blood as we speak.

SpyParty is out now on Steam Early Access for £19.50/$25.

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Dominic Tarason