Deceive Inc. Hands-On Preview: Shaken, Not Stirred
I was fortunate enough to play Deceive Inc. during a 2022 preview event and experience Sweet Bandits Studios' take on an ambitious crossover. Billed as an "extraction game [that] meets social deduction ... with spy-thriller flavor," it seems like an odd concept despite the popularity of both genres. Luckily, Deceive Inc. is able to stand firm on its own, divorced from the likes of giants like Rainbow Six Extraction and Among Us.
I didn't always feel that way, though. After playing the game's previous preview build, I was interested in Deceive Inc.'s concept but let down by it in practice. The game's emphasis on shooting in the second half of each match greatly overshadowed the carefully designed spy work that seemed to be the core experience.
However, in a testament to the studio and developers working on Deceive Inc., I couldn't have been more impressed with the latest preview build of the game. I felt as if all my complaints were addressed by simple mechanical tweaks that push you to engage more deeply with its most interesting mechanics.
Image via Sweet Bandits Studios
The concept for Deceive Inc. is simple: either in solo play or in teams of three, you must infiltrate a secret laboratory while donning multiple disguises to bypass security. Your goal? Steal sensitive information held in the highest-clearance area. If you can get to the briefcase of information before the other players or teams, you'll need to make a mad dash to an extraction point and escape. However, as soon as the case is snatched, the holder's location is revealed to all other players, and chaos quickly ensues.
While gunplay is still a heavy focus in the second half of a match, just as it was in my initial preview of Deceive Inc., a bigger emphasis has been placed on clever trickery and the use of gadgets to outsmart gun-wielding adversaries.
Previously, there wasn't much incentive to explore and engage with the game's espionage-heavy mechanics. It seemed a better strategy to simply wait at the extraction point with guns at the ready, letting others do the heavy lifting of finding the case.
Now, valuable upgrades and gadgets are hidden behind high-security areas that are instrumental for making it out of each round alive, meaning it's crucial to sleuth it up as much as you can in the early stages to have a mechanical edge over the other teams. Additionally, there are now multiple extraction points, and there's no way to know where a team will try to escape.
These simple changes to the original format mean you'll rely much more on the gear you find while exploring the densely detailed levels of Deceive Inc., not the weapons that come in your loadouts at the start. That's not to say your chosen loadout isn't important, but rather that the results of a match don't feel predetermined by whoever has the best stuff at the beginning of a match.
Image via Sweet Bandits Studios
The ability to, well, deceive was more often than not the deciding factor in the handful of matches I played in this second preview. In one match, the winning team didn't fire a single bullet as they extracted thanks to some well-placed distractions and the use of secret passages hidden in the level. A quick disguise change determined another match into a trash can that was overlooked during the heat of the firefight.
Initially, I was nervous that spy movies only inspired Deceive Inc. in its aesthetic alone. Now, the game seems to have successfully captured the thrilling feeling of a Bond film thanks to its willingness to lean into what makes a spy's skills intriguing in the first place. Deceive Inc. releases on March 21, 2023, for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.
Featured image via Sweet Bandits Studios.