Party Saboteurs, developed by The Glitch Factory, is not something that would usually even catch my attention in any fashion, but the simple, easy to explain, and interesting concept behind the game certainly made me take notice. Anyone familiar with The Ship or SpyParty will have some familiarity with the idea behind Party Saboteurs, but this game puts a bit of a twist on it. In SpyParty, you play as either a spy trying to complete a set of objectives or a sniper trying to figure out who the spy is and kill them. In Party Saboteurs you play both roles at the same time.
Described as a competitive splitscreen party game for up to four players, you take on the role of both one spy and one sniper as you try to complete your set of objectives for your spy, while trying to take out the your opponents' spies. Meanwhile, all that time your opponents are trying to figure out which three of the 11 (12 if you count their own spy) characters on screen is a spy as well.
It's easy to rattle off a few sentences to describe, vaguely, what is going on, but it is a little more difficult to understand exactly how the game works. Using a controller to control both spy and sniper, you only move the camera around from the sniper's POV, while trying to complete the objectives of your spy, who you'll also need to move around. Things get a little hairy as the game all takes place on one splitscreen between the four players.
That means that it makes no sense to leave your screen on your spy as you try to move him/her around to complete their objective as that would give it away. So you'll have to be clever in both your movement of your screen while searching around and using your opponents' screens to keep track of your own spy's movement as to not give it away.
To me, one thing that will be the most difficult part of the game will be trying to behave like an NPC. You'd have to study their movements and AI so as not to give yourself away. That brings in how unnatural completing objectives may make you look. The developer in the comments on the Greenlight page (which for the life of me I can't figure out how to link to), said that the objectives only take a few seconds to complete at a time. Do the NPCs move around most of the time, or do they stop and take breaks occasionally near by objectives? Again, a lot of the strategy will come in knowing how pathing, AI, etc. works as well. Though, getting down the movements of the NPCs will likely be the hardest thing.
Another part of that strategy will come in knowing the available objectives. While not explicitly stated, one would assume that there is a set of objectives that are then randomly selected for each player. Therefore, knowing where those need to be completed will certainly be of the utmost importance.
An even bigger thing to consider about the objectives has to do with the above screenshot. It seems that there will be arrows on your portion of the screen pointing to where you have to complete an objective. That seems like too much of a giveaway to make it a bit simpler. It would make more sense to have players study where the objectives are beforehand so when they are given their three, they'll know where to go. However, I suppose that may be a bit of an ask, and it may be that the developers deliberately want to make part of the strategy working around where your opponents' cameras are to then move in and quickly complete an objective.
As for the sniper part of the game, knowing all of the above is equally important. So while you have to be considering all of the above in moving your own spy, you have to be looking out for slip ups and giveaways on the other players' parts. You also have to keep in mind that if you make a single mistake, you will lose. That means, yes, you can only shoot other spies or you automatically lose. The chances are slightly against your favor if you guess wrong as only 4 of the 12 characters on the screen are player controlled, though you do control one yourself.
The win conditions aren't explicitly stated but one would assume that being the last spy standing, completing the final objective, or being the last sniper (that is, the other three players killed NPCs instead of spies).
One question you may have is: If it all shares on screen, how does the selection of your spy work to ensure you are the only one who knows which character you are? Well, thankfully someone had that question already and the developer explained it.
When selecting a character you are met with this screen where you just choose who you'd like to be based on the button above their head. If two players select the same character, they both have to choose again. That's pretty much it. Of course, you'll have to be sly in the real world so as to not let your friends see which button you push.
As of now, Party Saboteurs only has local co-op for you to play, which is both exciting and disappointing. While it caters to getting friends together and playing, which too few games do nowadays, it's unfortunate that it is the only way to play at the moment. I'd wager many find it difficult to get people together regularly to play something, so Party Saboteurs may be a once in a while sort of thing in that regard, where some planning ahead will be required.
Other than that, Party Saboteurs sounds like a very fun and tense game to play with friends, though hopefully it will be getting online multiplayer soon too—the developers don't promise it as a feature but would like to have online capability too. The developers also mention they'd like to have a singleplayer mode at some point as well.
Party Saboteurs is aiming for a late 2015, early 2016 release on PC for initial release, while considering other platforms for the future. The Glitch Factory plans to release Party Saboteurs to Early Access as well when it is in a stable beta state. If you're interested and want to learn more, check out the Greenlight page. If you really like it, don't forget to give it a thumbs up!
What do you think of Party Saboteurs? Does this look intriguing enough to convince three friends to try out? Is there a game(s) we missed on Greenlight this week?