If you wanted to play something like Among Us, but don’t care for the multiplayer interaction, Gnosia seems to be the best way to scratch that itch. After 60 loops, of which I reckon I am about halfway through or so based on unlocks, I can safely say that it is an instant buy for those that love visual novels with an anime aesthetic and RPG elements.
The complexity in a game like Gnosia could be its downfall. There are a plethora of systems, characters and roles, but the game does an amazing job of gradually building in complexity throughout each cycle. It wasn’t until about Loop 30 that most of the gameplay elements divulge themselves. It’s likely there are even more waiting in the wings as well.
The game has five key aspects: Discussion, Roles, Skills, Relationships, and Voting.
- Discussion: The discussion phase occurs each night where you must listen to the other crew members and suss out whether they are lying or telling the truth. You also have the option of agreeing with or defending someone from being blamed. Since it is single player, there are instances where you read similar dialog, but it hasn’t been too burdensome thus far. The unique spin is that each of the characters has skills specific to them. Some are better at lying, whereas some are better at sussing out when crew members are being less than honest and will call them out. When you get to higher crew numbers, anything past 10, it gets that much more complex. This complexity is easily dealt with via the Discussion and voting logs. It’d be nigh impossible to keep track of who tried to accuse who of what, so it is a handy way to weed out Gnosia.
- Roles: In my 60 loops, I have come across six roles that crew members can take. They range from being an engineer (which allows for the ability to investigate whether a crew member is human or Gnosia), to being a Doctor that can confirm if someone is a Gnosia in deep sleep or if a crew member is human. The rub? A Gnosia can falsely claim either of these two roles. Just because the Engineer said someone was a Gnosia doesn’t necessarily make it so. The only way to truly suss out the Gnosia is by shuffling through the discussion and voting logs that sort of key you in on people that are covering for one another and clearly gunning for important human roles.
- Abilities: There are a total of six abilities in Gnosia and they are: Charisma, Charm, Intuition, Logic, Performance, and Stealth. These abilities help you survive each loop by either making it harder to be detected when you lie, being able to spot someone that is lying or being less likely to be chosen for cold sleep. Another system unravels itself as you reach higher ability levels. Once you hit certain levels in any ability, you unlock unique commands. These unique commands are more powerful than standard deduction commands. One example is the “Say You’re Human” which is the ability to encourage each character in the group to well… say they’re human. Of course they could be lying, but it’s a good way to build the narrative for or against any other character.
- Relationships: There are a total of 15 characters that will attempt to survive the Gnosia threat, or will try to put all other players in cold sleep as a Gnosia. I was hesitant of the ability to adequately fill out such a large roster, but the developers have done an amazing job of making each character unique. It also helps that the art style in the visual-novel sequences are absolutely perfect. I thought the lack of any voice-acting would become noticeable, but it hasn’t become detracting at any moment. I actually think there is something inviting that they are not voiced. While learning about the character’s backstories is interesting in and of itself, it also plays a role into who you will vote to send to cold sleep. You will learn that some characters are bad at lying while others are deceptive and will often take on fake roles. The fact that relationship building plays a dual role of laying out character lore while also helping you strategically vote is a nice spin on two ideas that normally don’t relate.
- Voting: The whole goal is to vote off the Gnosia so they don’t take over the ship. The challenge increase is drastic the more people that are on board. One way the developers made it even more challenging was by adding in two classes: AC Follower and Bug. The AC Follower isn’t a Gnosia, but has a cult-like following of the Gnosia. There have been plenty of times that I have quickly voted the AC Follower assuming they were the Gnosia. The Bug is just as dangerous. This role is solely looking to destroy the universe, and if they are alive at the end of a loop (with either Gnosia or Humans) the Bug wins. As if a slew of classes wasn’t hard to get your head around, the Ai is adept at using commands just as you do, and there are plenty of times where you will get buried so quickly behind on votes that you can’t convince your way out. Speak up too much, and the AI will call you out. Don’t say enough, and they will also notice. The great thing about “losing” is that you still might gain tidbits of lore for a character, unlock a unique command and get XP to level up. In a sense, it’s the ultimate form of trial and error. Each loop gives you a tad more insight.
Gnosia isn’t a game that normally fits in my wheelhouse. I am not really a huge fan of the Among Us or Mafia types, nor am I usually into visual novels. But, the combination of the setting, beautiful artwork and complex-interlocking systems has triggered my sherlock-like deduction skills.