Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Why you need to be excited about SpyParty

3:00 PM on 03.19.2010 // Anthony Burch

There has never been a videogame like SpyParty.

Most videogames deal in the epic, the explosive, and the impersonal. SpyParty deals in subtlety, misdirection, and observation. Many multiplayer games ask the player to expend thousands of rounds of ammunition toward the destruction of the player's enemies; SpyParty gives you only one shot, and you'd better damn well make it count.

On the surface level, SpyParty is a two-player game about a sniper and a spy. The spy's job is to walk around a party, completing missions without breaking cover. The sniper's job is to identify the spy, and kill him. It's the simplest setup imaginable, but I was positively blown away by the game's depth and nuance after spending an hour with it at GDC. 

Hit the jump to find out why it deserves to be on your radar.

(Don't mind the ugliness of that screenshot; though the basic mechanics are there, SpyParty is still a good two years away from release. Hecker promises that a sizable amount of that dev time will be devoted to making the game look like not-ass.)


SpyParty isn't just a game about shooting people and completing objectives. If you want to look at it in the kookiest way possible, it's actually a game based around the Turing test.

The game takes place in a party, full of about a dozen AI guests. As the spy, your job is to not only complete a bunch of arbitrary objectives (bug the ambassador, meet with a double agent, move a book from one bookcase to another), but to do so while appearing to be an AI guest yourself. If you do anything a bit too human -- if you start walking around in circles or choose a weird path to one of your objectives -- you run the risk of getting identified by the sniper.

Thus, the experience of controlling a spy is very much like that of being an actor: you try to suss out exactly how an AI character would behave, while also trying to find the right moment to complete your objectives. You'll find yourself doing totally mission-unrelated things like staring out of windows or talking to other guests solely to keep your cover intact. Every moment of the spy experience drips with tension: did he notice that little stutter in my walk animation as I turned around? Am I standing too close to this bookcase? Oh god, his laser sight is pointed right at my head -- does that mean I'm about to die, or is he just testing to see if I flake out and walk away?


Conversely, the sniper experience is much more about perception and deduction; if playing the spy is like being an actor, then playing the sniper is like being a detective. As the spy can choose as many or as few missions as he wants, the sniper has to be careful with where he focuses his attention. You can spend the entire round focusing on the ambassador so you can watch for someone to bug him, but what if the spy didn't choose the ambassador mission? What if you try to focus on the entire crowd at once, at the risk of missing the incredibly subtle physical tells that every spy makes when completing a mission? Do you focus on only one or two people, possibly letting the actual spy get away with whatever he wants just outside your field of view?

As the sniper, you have to read the movements and actions of the entire party, narrowing down the number of possible spies until finally firing your sole bullet. If you hit the spy, you win the round. If you waste your bullet, the spy gets away. The sniper experience is one of constant uncertainty, making it that much more satisfying when you win.

SpyParty is as cerebral and personal experience as I've ever had with a multiplayer game. The mechanics are so straightforward that, after only a few rounds of play, I was already beginning to metagame. As the sniper, I'd aim my gun at the outside wall of the party, so the spy wouldn't be able to tell where I was looking and adjust their behavior accordingly. As the spy, I'd constantly try to use other members of the party as cover so that even if I blew my cover, the sniper would still run the risk of shooting the wrong person and losing the round. Between rounds, Hecker told me that one sniper he'd playtested with actually started listening for the clicking of his opponent's joystick, at which point he'd focus on any of the partygoers who started moving. Noticing this, the spy waited for an AI partygoer to start walking, then flicked the right joystick -- the one controlling the camera. Hearing the flick of a joystick and seeing a partygoer suddenly start moving, the sniper aimed, shot, and lost.


Even in the early build I played with just one map and only four possible spy objectives, no two rounds ever played out the same way. Far as I can tell, SpyParty isn't a game about memorizing map layouts or nailing an optimum strategy. It's about improvisation, and reaction, and reading your opponent, and behaving unpredictably. Despite being two years away from completion, the early version I saw still remains one of the most subtle, enjoyable, and surprisingly playful multiplayer games I've yet played.

You can follow its development here.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

KyWii avatarKyWii
Happy Thanksgiving all! Load up on carbs and then get back to playing Fallout 4.
Archelon avatarArchelon
New extended television spot for The Force Awakens! [youtube][/youtube]
TheKodu avatarTheKodu
I dunno if I just had a freak incident but I think Ubisoft may have just changed the Renown gain in Rainbow Six Siege to be less shit as in overnight they've patched it. If true, kinda good on them.
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
Does it mess with anyone else's head that when beating a SMBW level in Mario Maker the music doesn't do that little 'booowoo oop' at the end. [youtube][/youtube]
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
I've developed a new hobby to indulge in while on Skype with friends: creating stupid Sonic OCs. I have so much fun making them for some weird reason, and once I have enough of them I might as well post a c-blog of them, am I right? Look out in the future
El Dango avatarEl Dango
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Boy howdy, does Divinity: Original Sin take a while to get going. But, it was worth it in the end. Probably the most hardcore RPG I've played. Stellar writing, at that! Combat's pretty amazing too. [img][/img]
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
So it seems I've locked into the Neutral ending for SMT IV and now I need to find specific challenge quests and complete them...? How (un)fun! Google is your friend - the videogame.
Riobux avatarRiobux
Interested in playing some Pathfinder? Trying to arrange a Dtoid Pathfinder group for Saturday nights (GMT) on Skype & Roll 20. If you're new to pen-and-paper RPGs, I don't mind at all and can bring you up to speed quick. Just comment if interested.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Local convention had a great selection of game soundtracks 5 for $20! I got Halo 3: ODST (2 disk!), Gears of War 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Darksiders 2 (2 disk!), and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Some of the best soundtracks of the last 7 years!
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Photos and videos are back on quickposts but clipping on some devices. We're going to add a new quickpost editing interface so photos and videos can only be displayed one way (a la twitter) to solve this. Also, a My cBlog link was added to your user menu
Flegma avatarFlegma
Machine-washed my Wii Fit meter yesterday by accident. Took the battery out and let it dry for the night. Luckily the meter still worked - but it had counted a fair number of steps more that day.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Finally killed Ludwig, now if I could only get passed the 2 hunters on the second floor. that 2 some is rather annoying,and her holy blade kills in only a few hits. wish mine was that strong.
Casus Gaming avatarCasus Gaming
After reading a blog post about DMC4 I decided to watch all the cutscenes on Youtube. Tried the games years ago and couldn't get into them, but man that shit was stylish. Likeable protagonists, intense drama... still think DmC reboot wasn't that bad tho.
lewness avatarlewness
me on 1st ff14 raid (void ark): ooh so many people and lights, so many lights, lights, fuck I can't see, what is happening, i don't understand, is it tuesday already, get on the platform fuuuuck, wow void helm
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Just a reminder that you have until the 30th to get your Bloggers Wanted post, "Thankful it's over" in. I'm either going to tell you how I ruined my best online gaming experience or rip Twilight Princess a new one. Maybe both.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Huh. I just found out the developers of Hatred (remember that controversy?) region-locked their game to prevent it from being accessed by Australians. Destructive Creations are more censor-happy than Nintendo, it seems. Where's the outrage?
Oh yeah, I have an account on this site.
Parismio avatarParismio
Ever wanted to get that item behind that safe in the beginning of Fallout 4?:
Shinta avatarShinta
Got Resident Evil 4 Wii for $5. Uh ... this might be my favorite version. I'm just getting headshots nonstop. Did I miss any other Wii games that are frequently overlooked? Like, really obscure Wii games that no one talks about? I'm interested.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -