Flashes of frightful images, a freaky monologue, and brief verbal rundown scream by me before I find myself in the disturbing Millhaven Asylum. The worst thing? I’m not alone.
World Makers’ second iteration of its monstrous social deduction game, Deceit 2, is a multiplayer experience. So, there are anywhere between six to nine people in the ritual-marred structure at any one time. However, several of them are nightmares in disguise set on tearing me limb from limb.
Because I’m checking out an Alpha build of the upcoming title, there’s little in the way of tutorials or explanations. So, I have to ask my fellow players — a handful of developers from World Makers — to explain almost everything to me while I rush in panic away from an unearthly threat.
The reason my character is in this mess, explains the team, goes back to an online forum. I, along with everyone else now fighting to escape with their souls, decided to meet my virtual, paranormal-obsessed buddies in real life. Of course, the place we pick for this is a notoriously creepy institution. What we didn’t know was a maniac with a pension for games and a connection to “The In-Between” lurks inside, waiting to ensnare us in a deadly competition of life or death.
Starting a round, I discover I’m on team Innocent, and my job consists of freeing trapped souls in order to escape. Unlike my opponents — the Infected — who want to offer blood at blood alters to trigger the night phase where they can transform into blood-thirsty demons, I have to scurry around setting radios to a certain channel, flipping over cards, and cracking safes to let loose the imprisoned phantoms attached to each object. I try not to think about how I might share their fate if I don’t make it out alive.
Unleashed souls become a kind of currency shared amongst the team. As the number of our souls grows, we can purchase increasingly powerful items from a spectral merchant, including the literal key to our freedom. During my playthrough, this creature, called The Peddler, looks like a single, spindly arm reaching out from the abyss. However, the devs tell me they have big plans to make this otherworldly purveyor even more polished and unsettling.
From the shop, I can trade souls for various offensive weapons, like the camera, pistol, and torch (sadly like the flashlight and not a flaming stick). These all made an appearance in the first title and, though helpful, the team seemed to enjoy Deceit 2’s newer additions.
The mask, for example, gives the wearer the power to take another person’s form. This is a godsend for Infected as they can sow suspicion in the ranks by pouring their blood over a blood alter when they look like someone else and get intentionally caught.
There is no orderly meeting to discuss voting someone out. Like most things in Deceit 2, getting rid of a suspected Infected is a bloody affair. Anyone with a gun begins shooting, those brandishing knives start slashing, and unarmed teammates prepare to throw hands to bring the culprit to their knees. Then, as an ominously glowing red ring appears around the accused, the group decides whether to spare them or not. The cycle of bloodletting continues until either everyone is dead or someone escapes.
Deceit 2’s loop is functionally complete. However, the creators tell me it, along with several other elements of the game, still has some polishing left. For example, my game gave everyone access to every item as soon as we collected enough souls but at release, the shop will have a progression system. So players will probably expect to start with a simple weapon, like the pistol, before gaining more powerful relics like the tablet that lets you watch the CCTV cameras. There’s also a flurry of UI, tutorial, and asset updates to make before the game goes into beta this summer.
I even got a little hint at what to expect post-launch. The crew plans to release multiple DLCs throughout the game’s lifecycle which will add new baddies, maps, and other content. There’s no firm schedule for these yet, but it seems the first of these will involve werewolf foes hunting innocents through a gloomy forest.
As for what fans can expect at launch, Deceit 2 will release on PlayStation and Xbox consoles as well as PC and offer cross-play between all. Players will be able to choose from nine characters who all have their reasons for coming to the spooky locale. And while World Makers doesn’t have a date set, the team told me they expect the game to come out later this year, after getting feedback from the summer’s beta.