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A crewmate died last night. This horrifying fact is revealed in a meeting between everyone else aboard our vessel, a spaceship currently travelling to an unspecified destination. Suspicions arise and accusations are thrown with a mix of panic and sinister enjoyment. One of the participants tries to lower tensions with small talk, but it’s no use. It’s time for a vote. It’s time to decide who among us is Gnosia.
Watch the trailer for Gnosia here
Gnosia is a unique and interesting whodunnit game. As the main character, you’re in a time loop, with each sequence revolving around the presence of a murderous alien species trying to eliminate crew members. The titular Gnosia do not appear any different to ordinary characters, so it’s all down to the democratic process of voting for who is most likely to be the killer(s).
Your role changes per loop, meaning you can be on the side of good or bad - if you see it as that simple, at least. As a regular crew member, you’ll want to survive by evading death. If you’re Gnosia, then it’s all about sneakily killing off everyone else until there’s not enough crew left to stand in your way.
There are various roles the crew may be assigned to. There are engineers who can investigate characters to reveal if they’re Gnosia or not. There are doctors who can examine frozen crew members (crew are frozen when deemed to be Gnosia by a vote). There are also security officers, who never leave the ship so have the perfect alibi as the Gnosia only infiltrate a character when they’re away from the spacecraft.
The thing is, none of this really matters because it’s all about the vote. There are various stats in Gnosia, and how you use them affects whether or not you get your way in the democratic showdowns that drive the gameplay. You may be the engineer, and you may have discovered someone is in fact a killer alien, but if your peers don’t believe you… well, don’t expect to survive the night.
The loop mechanic of Gnosia adds a sense of freshness and excitement to gameplay. While you get to know other characters in a traditional visual novel style for the most part, the constant reminders that each loop is standalone from the one before means that your past experiences won’t help you. Add to that your personal biases that you’re bound to form, and you’ll be caught up in some severe conflicts with your own mind.
The dance between the crew and the Gnosia is complicated further by a plot that stretches beyond the loops. In addition to the whiplash effect of the previous loop’s antagonist now turning potential ally, there’s also a confounding, greater mystery to explore. To do this, you’ll need to follow NPC advice, and survive long enough in each loop to trigger certain events.
Being predominantly a visual novel game, Gnosia is full of quirky, distinct characters. Although the loop resets, you can permanently increase your knowledge of the surrounding cast through in-game events. These lead to interesting facts about them, and the wider world of Gnosia. While this adds depth to the game, it also makes it tougher when you find yourself on the opposing side to your favourite NPCs.
Playing on Nintendo Switch, Gnosia is one of the games I’ve consistently returned to over 2021. The gameplay mechanics are simple to learn, and the whole thing is satisfying to the point where you never really want to stop playing. Add to that the overarching sense of something far bigger at play, and a cast of characters who all deserve your time, and you end up with one of the best games I’ve played this year.
Gnosia was tested on Nintendo Switch with code provided by the publisher. The game is available now.
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