Gnosia studio on the U.S. Switch port of the Japanese cult hit

Impostor video games have actually constantly had an odd method of bringing individuals together, whether it’s the real-life celebration past-time Mafia, a tabletop variation like The Resistance stimulating on heated disputes, or Amongst United States assisting social groups discover a method to remain in touch amidst the pandemic.

Gnosia is a fascinating take on social reduction due to the fact that it shuns a normal multiplayer framing in favor of a single-player format. It plays out like a visual unique crossed with a dispute club, where you need to attempt and direct conversation and suspicion without drawing excessive upon yourself.

However don’t error Gnosia for yet another video game getting on the Amongst United States bandwagon. It’s origin story is a lot longer and distinguished than you may believe.

A screenshot of the cast list of Gnosia

Image: Petit Depotto

Gnosia’s the 2nd video game from Japanese indie studio Petit Depotto following 2013’s Unholy Heights. Group leader Mezukare — the designers frequently pass their pseudonyms — informed me in an e-mail interview that the motivation initially originated from playing a “werewolf-style” video game on their smart device; they were discontented with the building of the experience, therefore the group chose to make a variation they might enjoy themselves on the PlayStation Mobile platform, beginning advancement in 2015.

“So at first, we weren’t really even considering releasing it,” Mezukare states.

While Gnosia is only simply now coming by to the U.S., it’s currently been out for almost 2 years in Japan. It initially introduced for the PlayStation Vita in 2019, not long after Sony formally discontinued production of the portable. Usually, that sort of exclusivity would be a bad thing. It didn’t have rather that impact on Gnosia, nevertheless.

Things were peaceful around the week of release, Mezukare informs me. It was a video game that was attempting some brand-new things. However as word of mouth began to spread out, remarks appeared from gamers who enjoyed it online. It suddenly exploded, as they describe it; Gnosia would go on to receive a 36/40 from Famitsu and a 10/10 from IGN Japan.

One of the maps in Gnosia

Image: Petit Depotto

“All the reviews from different game media were really good, and the fact that we were totally unknown actually got us even more attention, so the sales figures shot up out of nowhere,” Mezukare says. “We were extremely happy to see all these players supporting us so passionately, and that really helped give us confidence.”

Though Mezukare says Gnosia was made for Vita users, the team received a volume of fan requests for a port to the Nintendo Switch. It was something they didn’t consider right away, but after seeing Vita users commenting on how the platform was “dead,” Mezukare says that’s when they thought they had to put it on Switch in Japan.

On March 4, the Switch port finally comes to the United States.

Gnosia is more than an anime Werewolf

On top of the impostor element, there is another major focus of Gnosia that sets it apart: time loops. It’s clear within minutes that your character is caught in a time loop, repeating these games of humans versus impostors over and over again.

In some cases, you’re a simple crewmate. But what if you loop back around as an Engineer, who can scan one person for potential impostorhood each night? Or the Doctor, able to test and see whether the person most recently put into cold sleep — a slightly less gruesome alternative to the usual voting-out portion of a werewolf game — was an impostor or not? Or maybe you’re the Gnosia itself, an alien lifeform pretending to be human, each night working to erase their existence from the universe.

Each loop, the player tries to learn more about the world, like why time repeats itself or what the Gnosia really are, while also avoiding erasure or being put into cold sleep by their fellow crew members.

One of the menus in Gnosia

Image: Petit Depotto

From the outset, Petit Depotto’s four-developer team worked to make Gnosia a single-player, narrative-driven social deduction game, with stats that increase between loops, bolstering the player’s ability to charm crewmates, intuit lies, and avoid the ire of the Gnosia, all while deducing the story’s greater mysteries.

With dozens upon dozens of potential crewmate and role assignments, various numbers of characters and potential Gnosia onboard, and details to discover about each person, it might seem difficult to wrangle that kind of narrative into one cohesive thread.

“Since there weren’t many stories out there that were structured similarly, it first took a lot of time just to work out how to write it, and while writing the story we kept digging and digging, and took it one step at a time, very carefully,” Mezukare says.

One of the menus in Gnosia depicting the character’s level and stats

Image: Petit Depotto

Luckily, the team had some help. Mezukare says they received some advice from Amphibian, a developer who worked on a similarly structured visual novel called Raging Loop, that “really helped immensely.”

Unlike Raging Loop, which branches out along set paths with traditional “good” and “bad” ends, Petit Depotto’s game loops in tighter constraints. The team streamlined the structure so that each “loop” should take anywhere from five to 15 minutes. It seems a little quick, but it can be overwhelming at times when you have 15 crewmates on board and any number of roles in play.

Mezukare says the team decided to have the first set of 15 loops act as a sort of tutorial: debates are simplified, characters are gradually introduced, and the different roles and rules trickle in over time. You begin with fairly basic commands, like being able to doubt someone’s motives. Then, as the loops carry on and your abilities grow, you gain access to new ways of shifting the debates, bending the story in new directions.

“We’ve also included a handful of shocking plot twists and surprising story events,” Mezukare says, “In order to keep things interesting and make sure the player doesn’t get bored.”

A character in Gnosia agrees with your suspicions of a crewmate

Image: Petit Depotto

Expanding the loop

With Gnosia coming west, there’s now an entirely new segment of gamers to try it out for themselves. The team is excited for them to play, noting how it provides a different kind of experience — a single-player game that’s both a mystery and a novel — than the multiplayer-focused Among Us.

“This is a game that features an entirely new system of ‘game grammar,’ so we really hope that players outside Japan can get into it and appreciate it,” Mezukare states. “For each individual player, there is a unique feeling of catharsis to be gained.”

For a team that was making a humble visual novel for the Vita, it’s been an interesting journey. Mezukare recalled how fun it was discussing different settings and stuff that didn’t make it into the final product; “Also, playing Splatoon 2 while thinking about how development was behind and I was about to go broke was super fun, too!” Mezukare states, noting the group still plays together now.

At least for now, those Splatoon 2 games can be a little livelier, as the team finds out whether Gnosia can become the same sensation for a new group of players. Gnosia will be out for the Nintendo Change on March 4, 2021.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.