Eville Preview: Wouldst Thou Care For a Murder?
The sun peeks through your curtains and signals the start of another lovely day. You get up, and, remembering the local herbalist needs some materials from you, get ready to head out. The birds are singing, and all is well — except the village mayor is lying dead five feet away from your doorstep.
Welcome to Eville, a town where murder and other deeds most foul are afoot. It’s a social deduction adventure from VestGames, but don’t let the tagline “Art thou sus?” fool you. Eville is closer to an interactive game of Clue than it is an Among Us lookalike.
I had the chance to play a few rounds thanks to Vest Games and UberStrategist, and despite still being in its early development stages, Eville promises to be a wagon full of gruesome fun.
Eville supports up to 12 players, and the development team said bigger parties are ideal. It’s easy to see why as well. Once the round starts, Eville assigns each player a specific class.
The naughty ones are the Conspirators: barbarians, thieves, slanderers, and smugglers. Their goal is stealing from and/or murdering everyone in town. The other players are Villagers of varying types, ranging from Seers and Detectives to the Mayor, among others.
By day, it’s (hopefully) a normal village. You can mill around, see what others are doing, take on quests, and other totally normal things such as buying traps to keep people from assassinating you in your sleep. Night is a different story. Few characters can venture out after the sun goes down, and it’s when all manner of mischief can happen.
Most murders and poisonings happen then, but the more brazen Conspirators can bump people off in broad daylight too.
Each class has a role to play. Barbarians slay under cover of darkness, for example, while Trappers set traps (obviously) for catching Conspirators, and Ghost Whisperers can glean clues from the departed.
I ended up as Detective and Seer in my two rounds.
Detectives can enter people’s homes and, once per day, examine their belongings to see what role they might have. They can also venture out at night once per game to see who is behaving badly. Seers can track suspicious villagers and set up night cameras to monitor certain areas.
These roles are where Eville’s greatest potential lies because you can only gather so much information as one person. Piecing together the rest of the mystery means working with villagers you think you can trust, while always seeing who might be lying and whose actions are inconsistent with their stated roles.
Eville lets you accuse others of having a certain role, whether good or bad, and you can claim one for yourself. It’s instant chaos, throwing a wrench into what you thought was a clever deduction plan.
Yet it also gives you a hint at how to use your skills. In the first round, I realized the person who claimed they were the Mayor couldn’t be, because my Detective’s skills showed me the real Mayor was dead. Sadly, my ace sleuthing didn't extend to realizing the browser muted my microphone. The killer remained at large until they murdered someone in the town square.
The game switches to a "judgment mode" whenever someone discovers a body. There’s a period for placing blame, and then the accused undergoes another trial. Everyone takes sides to choose whether they think the accused is guilty, and the majority opinion determines whether they live or die.
Murder victims, alongside the falsely accused (and subsequently murdered), exist as ghosts after death. The test build I played didn’t include it, but VestGames said they’re adding ghost quests to later builds so the dead won’t be bored.
Outside all of the sleuthing and killing, Eville gives you several other tasks to complete. NPCs have requests you can fulfill for money, there’s a shop with useful recovery items and traps, and the local herb witch is on hand to sell you potions should you find yourself inexplicably poisoned. It’s here where I ran into my only hesitation.
The day cycle is fairly short, so having time to actually find and complete a task in the same day is rare. There’s a distinct sense of injustice when you’re dispatched before finishing a quest too.
For all I know, though, the planned ghost quests could be “unfinished business” where you can still do most of what you could in life. Still, restricting skills to once per day or per game also makes the cycle feel more limited than I’d have liked.
These are minor complaints, though. Eville is already highly polished, much more so than I'd expect from an early alpha build. The unique classes and skills add a surprising amount of variation in each game, and the deduction element, so far, makes for one of the most enjoyable mystery experiences I've encountered in games. I can’t wait to see what’s in store when it enters early access later this year.