Review: Werewolves Within (PSVR)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
  • Cross-Play Yes
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Title: Werewolves Within
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (2.8 GB)
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Red Storm Entertainment
Original MSRP: $29.99 (US), €29.99 (EU), £24.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Red Storm Entertainment and Ubisoft have taken the popular Werewolf party game, which is a twist on the older social game of Mafia and made an online only social bluffing game called Werewolves Within. I worry if this unique experience will work without being able to look into the eyes of the other players.

Gameplay:
You start off sat in a circle waiting for enough players to begin a game. There is not much you can do in this online only game while you wait, apart from studying up on the various roles and pick a few emotes to use. When other players appear in a puff of smoke, you can talk to them, dependent on how vocal they are.

All of the actions in the game are performed by moving the headset to focus on something or someone and pressing a button. You can assign some emotes to the directional pad which help to express some of your views or just for giggles.

A floating book has everything you need to play and control things. You can select servers and rules, invite friends, and most importantly, vote during rounds. Most of the time, and once you are accustomed to the various intricacies you rarely need to view the old-fashioned guidebook.

The object of the game is to determine who among the group are lycanthrope via discussion and deduction. Each person is assigned a role at the beginning of the round and some will have to lie and deceive or trick others into voting for themselves or others.

You can all choose to vote before the time runs out but more often than not, you will need every precious second to get some idea of the liars. Not having to stare at the real faces can be beneficial for the werewolves as lying is easier so listening to people and asking the right questions is crucial.

I advise taking a peek at the tutorial video before jumping into a game. There are several things to learn and the video helps with most of it. If you are still unsure about anything, do not worry, the game is about having fun and no one takes the proceedings all that seriously.

… I will let you figure out which is which …
I usually avoid listing character types or modes in my reviews but felt this one demands it. You have the standard Villager whose only ability is to appoint a ringleader. A ringleader’s vote counts double in the voting phase so choose him or her wisely. A Tracker can listen for Werewolves on one side of the group but can only tell if three players do or do not have one among them.

The Astrologer and Drifter are quite similar. One must gaze at the stars to learn one role definitely in play and the other learns two roles not in play during that round. I will let you figure out which is which.

A Gossip can potentially mess things up for other players and many Werewolves and Turncloaks pretend to be this one. Over time, the Gossip learns the role of two players, one true and one possibly false. The Watcher is just like the Gossip but they learn two roles for a single player, one true and one false.

A Houndsman may scent adjacent players’ roles. This is achieved by leaning across, however, someone who wants a private chat usually makes the rest of the group suspicious. The Saint prays to learn the identity of a Werewolf so it is good practice to get everyone to bow his or her head as if praying. Be careful because Werewolves win if they all vote for the Saint.

… a large spooky graveyard and a well-maintained gallows …
Now we get to the devious Werewolf, they know who the other Werewolves are and can scent the roles of adjacent players by leaning, just like the Houndsman. A Turncloak counts as Townsfolk but is playing for the other team. They know who the Werewolves are and win if they do.

Lastly, we have the despicable Deviant who is potentially the hardest role to play. They win only if eliminated and so will try to disrupt the game as much as possible. Usually pretending to be a Werewolf or Turncloak but never actually admitting it.

Visuals:
Werewolves Within is located in the fictitious village of Gallowston and it looks charming, with a cute cartoon style. It features houses and a mountain-top castle that no structural engineer or architect played any part in building and could only exist in a Disney style fantasy.

Charming might be the wrong word as the little village comes equipped with a large spooky graveyard and a well-maintained gallows, probably where they got the name. There are three locations where the group meets, the cold and blustery castle steps, a windy and quaint caravan looking down onto the village, and in the aforementioned town square.

… Each avatar has a comical charm about them …
Each location looks good and you cannot help but look around on your first visit to admire the scenery and maybe play some I Spy while you wait for the last one or two people before you can begin a game. I hope to see some more avatars and even a new location or two appear in the future, just to add to the variety.

Using emotes is a nice way of expressing yourself with predefined gestures but it would have been nice to make use of the Move controllers. It could have been a way of limiting the amount of information being sent between players making for a smoother and more stable game.

Each avatar has a comical charm about them and looks as if they were stereotypically pulled from a fantasy tale. You might inhabit the body of a village idiot or lovable scoundrel, the strong woodsman or an innocent young woman. It is odd when you swap genders but I am happy that the game decides who you will be. It’s funny hearing a butch male voice boom from a little dainty witch.

Audio:
Voice chat plays a big part in the entire experience and could potentially ruin the game if it does not work. So far, I have only encountered one or two very brief interruptions in the chat and nothing that could not be resolved by simply asking them to repeat what they just said. With players based all around the world, surprisingly, the only issues seemed to be with a few accents and volume levels.

Every player I encountered agreed with the quality and only one or two said that they suffered a rare blip. I like that an avatar’s eyes will look in the direction of whoever is talking which subconsciously helps you know where to look. An avatar’s mouth will also move and make some of the vowel shapes when it registers them in the speaker’s voice. It looks like a simple cartoon representation but does the job all the same.

… Everyone I played with was there to have fun …
Online/Multiplayer:
Even when I played with a mixture of PlayStation VR, Vive, and Oculus Rift users, the overall experience was very good. There was an occasional frame or two missed in a character’s movement but again, nothing that hurt my enjoyment of the game.

A game must have between five and eight players, the more the better as it allows for more variety in the possible roles. How busy it is can largely depend on the time of day and you might need to consider switching servers if you are waiting too long.

During a YouTube stream, when two players left, their avatars remained and the eyes followed the chatter, which was a little disconcerting. The hollow shells even lingered during the next round and appeared uncomfortably close to other players, to everyone’s amusement.

Some people might consider the idea of this daunting but I urge you to reconsider. Everyone I played with was there to have fun and enjoy the game as intended. You will get the odd player who is acting the fool and annoying people, but mostly they get kicked from a group very quickly.

If you are new to the game and your role suggests you should keep it a secret, to play it safe, just say you are a Villager. Slowly you will learn the tactics, what to admit and what to keep close to your chest. Most groups help if you let them know you are new to the game.

… The game is frightfully addictive …
Conclusion:
Werewolves Within is a fantastic game. It’s absurdly fun and different every single time you play. However, it relies on there being plenty of other players online and I have encountered a few occasions when it took ages for enough players to populate the servers.

It’s very nice to see the Cross-Platform play working so well and helping to keep the user numbers up. Being able to add them as an in-game friend also means you can stick with the groups you like to play with.

It has never been so much fun to lie in one round and uncover the devious werewolves in another. The game is frightfully addictive and I have met some brilliant and funny people while playing. It brings out the naughty side in us all and I love it.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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  • J.D. Dabbs

    It’s a lot of fun just watching you on YouTube, Chazz. I may have to pick this up, eventually. My only issue is that the nature of the game means that it may become near impossible to find other players. Needless to say, I’m on the fence about how much I really want this. I may have to look for it as a rental, first. But, thank you for posting the videos!

    • ChazzH69

      There has been moments when there are not enough people but switching servers or reloading the server drops you into a game. Most people lose track of time in this game and play obsessively. I have racked up about 120 games over twenty-three hours.

      • J.D. Dabbs

        Actually, this review is dead on accurate. I haven’t racked near that many games, but my daughter is trying for it!
        I still blame you, Chaz! 😀
        (Nice to talk to you, btw. I hope I didn’t come across as a total “wanker”.)

        • ChazzH69

          Glad to see you got the game and nice playing with you, hope to do it again soon.

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