Board games seem to have been going through something of a renaissance in the last few years. They’re cool again (at least in our household anyway) and you can find plenty of friendly cafes centred around spending an evening battling it out with your friends. Even more recently the social deduction genre has also seen a boom, with the likes of Among Us attracting millions of players across numerous platforms.
These types of games, my personal favourite being “Are You a Werewolf?”, have even inspired “The Traitors”, a recent worldwide TV hit (it’s great, watch it). What makes them so enjoyable is the crucial part the players themselves have to fulfil in the game, as opposed to simply moving pieces around a board and following the rules.
Eville (pronounced “Evil”) draws on the social deduction genre, blending it with real-time gameplay and some other elements too. This online only game supports matches of up to twelve players, assigning each one of them a role. The majority will be innocent villagers, whilst a small number will play the role of a conspirator. There is also the slim chance you may be given a neutral role. It’s a sneaky battle to the death to remain the last ones standing.
At the start of each match all players will be given their roles. The many options fade away in front of you, until your character is revealed in a pleasingly exciting and tense opening. It’s then that you’re all let loose in the town of Eville to go about your business, not knowing who to trust.
There is a day and night cycle at play which means as each morning breaks, someone will most likely have been murdered. It’s then up to the eagle-eyed villagers to discover the corpse, ring the town bell and initiate the voting process to try and oust a conspirator. They will promptly be set ablaze if found to be guilty, but only when the last conspirator is found will the villagers be victorious.
There is also the option to ring the emergency bell if someone sees something requiring an urgent discussion. At night, you’ll head to bed and the camera will fix over your little dwelling. Watch closely however, as you may receive unwanted visitors.
Death, however, is not the end. No, you’ll wind up in the afterlife and your money will be automatically converted to the local currency. You can still get involved, influencing the direction of play in a more indirect way with the use of a different set of skills and items. You can choose to help or hinder the remaining players, most likely looking for revenge on those who accused you.
There are many roles in Eville, and more so in the advanced mode which ups the ante somewhat. Each comes with their own special abilities which makes things a little more interesting. For example, the mayor can declare, without doubt, his role in the game whenever he likes. He also has more sway in shaping public opinion thanks to his double vote. The trapper can, well, lay traps for other players to injure or even kill them. This can prove very useful when trying to uncover the conspirators.
Of course, it’s much more fun to play the villain, sneaking around at the dead of night deciding who to kill and how much confusion to cause. When night falls, discussion begins as you and your fellow conspirators decide who it’s best to off in their sleep.
It’s not all about murdering each other however, Eville also gives you a little more to do alongside the detective work. You can earn yourself some dollar by completing simple fetch and find quests, following waypoints to guide you. You can buy combat items with your hard earned cash which can be used in your current match, such as a poltergeist which will stalk another player.
Not only this, but your house can be customised with all sorts of furniture you unlock as you level up. Your character can also be pimped in all the usual ways including: skins, equipment, and emotes which are all up for grabs. Season 2 has now launched too, bringing all sorts of new items and customisation options with it. Frostpit, a new playable map, is available to play thanks to the update.
“Did you say level up?” I hear you ask. I did. Eville is another game which comes with a season pass that locks many items behind it, offering a few free ones every so many levels. In fairness, it won’t cost you much and the premium item system works exactly how you would expect. It’s also worth noting that XP is dished out fairly generously, so it’s perfectly possible to enjoy Eville by just purchasing the base game. Personally, I would be happy never to see such a mechanic again but it seems to be what the kids want these days, so hey ho.
Eville is nice and easy on the eye. The cartoonish style instantly reminds of World of Warcraft, right down to the yellow icons hovering over the heads of the quest givers (and the sound effect when you accept said quest). Everything runs pretty smoothly too, with some occasional lag in loading certain menu images.
A concern, for a game which can only be played with others online, is the fact that matchmaking can be hit and miss. There aren’t an awful lot of matches on the board, even if you cast your net worldwide. It’s been a few months since the game launched, but despite crossplay and having the might of Game Pass behind it, I struggled to get a game at times. I guess there’s a lot of competition out there when it comes to these types of online multiplayer games.
It’s perfectly possible to play Eville without a headset, thanks to a chat window, but you’ll need to get involved in voice chat for the sleekest and most immersive experience. I say that, but it means speaking to the weird and wonderful online community. There’s no getting away from the fact that will put some people off. Oh, and be prepared to be judged harshly on every action you take too. The good thing is that both chat options are proximity based, so it’s much less risky when having those shady conversations. It also means the chat splits depending on your role and if you’re dead or not which is a great way to prevent people from spoiling the game.
Eville has the right ideas, the social deduction genre really is an awful lot of fun. However, playing online with a party of random people doesn’t quite hit the same as getting a group of friends around to play this genre of game. Sure, you could just play online with your friends, and whilst on Game Pass this is perfectly possible, but getting the numbers together often enough is usually something of a challenge.
When I did get into some games I had fun with Eville, but after a few hours its limitations began to show. The matches themselves felt longer than necessary, especially if no conclusive decision was made to eliminate a player. There wasn’t enough variety to keep me popping back every day despite new stuff being added and fundamentally the game remained the same. From the names I could see, there was a small community of dedicated players who logged on regularly and this seemed evident due to the low amount of activity on the servers.
Eville is built on solid foundations, having a good stab at bringing the social deduction genre to the masses, but it lacks the components to achieve longevity in a crowded and competitive space.
Eville is on the Xbox Store