I was introduced to Eville in the way mandated in the bylaws of impostor games: by being the first to die. On my first night staying in the quaint medieval village with Eville's developers, I crept out of my home eager to use my powers as the detective to catch a killer in the act. What I caught the killer in the act of was planting an axe in my face. I guess that makes me either a great or terrible detective depending on how you want to define success.
Like Among Us, Eville is a descendant of tabletop hidden role games like Werewolf or Mafia. Evildoers in the group attempt to kill innocent players without being discovered. Meanwhile the innocent townsfolk try to deduce who the murderers are—a process which involves shouting and laughing—and vote to eliminate them. Unlike Among Us though, Eville branches off from the Werewolf family tree pretty early, retaining a lot of that complexity and then adding more of its own on top.
Ye olde role call
A large part of sorting out Eville's impostors from the innocents revolves around the roles assigned to each player. Where Among Us strips players down simply to impostors and crewmates, Eville doles out individual roles each with their own special abilities.
During the day, all players are able to explore the medieval town in real time, running and jumping around in third person with their own fantasy characters. When the timer for the day round ends, townsfolk all get put to bed and hope they live through the night. Most have to stay asleep in their homes, but the conspirators, and some villagers, are able to go out during the night round.
As the detective, for instance, I pressed E to activate my "sneak out" skill. Being the town sleuth, my passive ability was identifying other players if I got close enough to them at night. For other players who sneak out, everyone they come across is an unknown silhouette. I did in fact catch the name of the player who killed me, but didn't manage to relay that information before I died. Whoops.
When the sun comes back up again, you'll need to figure out who, if anyone, has died. Conspirators can kill a player during the day round as well, and the sizable 3D town means they have plenty of opportunity to do so without being spotted. After reporting a dead body or calling a meeting at the town center, everyone can vote on which player they want to put on trial. The one voted most suspicious gets thrown in a cage and has a limited time to plead their case while the rest of the town votes whether to spare or kill them.
If I'd lived to see the second day, I could have also inspected the houses of other townsfolk and used my detective skills to narrow down what roles they might have been assigned. In a later round I played, another detective used that ability to much greater effect by putting a possible killer on the spot. The detective claimed to have investigated another player's home and seen that they were either an axe murderer or a particular villager role. They challenged the accused to name their role. If they couldn't, that would pin them as one of the conspirators.
As with tabletop Werewolf, there's quite a stack of roles with interesting abilities. The seer can place what's essentially a magical security camera that they watch overnight. A trapper leaves spike plates that trigger and kill whoever walks over them at night. The guard places a protective area that summons them on the spot if someone enters it at night. If you get called to action though, is that a conspirator you're stabbing or a detective? Are you sure?
It's a complicated web of implications that can lead to plenty of interesting reveals if you've got a group of players ready to make the most of their roles.
Itemized social deductions
If the role interactions weren't enough to wrap your head around, Eville also has town merchants who can sell you items and NPCs who you can do quests for. The quests are small enough to complete during the day rounds, things like picking herbs or dropping off a barrel. You'll earn coins for doing them, which you can use to buy items from vendors.
Consumable items add even more complexity, giving villagers new ways to influence their fates that I hadn't experienced in other impostor games. You can buy a tripwire that will wake you up if someone enters your house at night. A Tome of Death lets you see what role a player had before they died, which is also one of the ghost whisperer role's abilities. There are potions for restoring your health or poisoning others. Expensive plated boots can protect you from spike traps.
It's daunting at first.
If Eville has a hurdle to clear it will be that steep early learning curve. Players need to get their bearings on the map, as with Among Us, but they also need to have a good grasp for the abilities of each role and which ones are in play. Match hosts can control variables like the length of rounds and choose a difficulty, which will determine which roles are assigned. I suspect most players will be introduced to the game in a smaller group, with a pared down selection of roles so they can learn the ropes of medieval murder a little more gently.
Overwhelming introduction aside, I can easily see how shouting about who I saw sneaking out of a house at night and voting to burn them alive will be a riot among my own friends. Playing with people whose voices I recognize probably wouldn't have stopped me from being the first to die, though. Those are the rules.
Eville is launching in early access on Steam later in 2021.