I argue, doubt, shift blame, and ultimately, I feel a freezing sensation as I’m put into Cold Sleep for the 45th time. I wake up again, and none of the crewmates remember what we were talking about; my screen lights up with the words “Loop 46,” and we begin again.
This is the loop for Gnosia, the murder-mystery visual novel released by Playism today. It’s a game that focuses on eliminating your ship of the alien race the GNosia, who will kill everyone on the ship until they are the majority of the crew. It’s a logic puzzle begging for you to deduce it until it isn’t.
There’s a much larger story at play, one about two characters aware they are stuck in an endless loop, in fact, you’re the only characters aware this is happening. Every other character on the ship doesn’t remember anything; all they want to do is eliminate the Gnosia from the ship, blissfully unaware they’ve been doing this for much longer than they know.
The mechanics of Gnosia are simply at the surface; figure out who the Gnosia is by using a series of clues and intuition. Characters will claim various roles, like the engineer can evaluate one target a night to determine whether they are Gnosia or human. Every day the crew meets to discuss their findings and choose to put one person in Cold Sleep. Using the pieces of the puzzle you try to cast doubt and argue your reasoning while trying to stay alive yourself.
This is where the rigid mechanics of the game can be faulty. Often characters will dismiss your thoughts on an accusation only to accuse the same person immediately, or vice-versa. Of course, you can upgrade skills like charisma or logic to help mitigate these instances, but it’s hard to play a game of logic with NPCs at times.
Eventually, you’ll have more control over how many NPCs are present, which roles can be allowed, and even your own role. This is where Gnosia really shines and allows you to experiment with all sorts of crazy settings.
For a game that focuses sharply on bite-sized rounds (each one lasting around ten minutes) the customization options help each round feel fresh, even if you end up in Cold Sleep three times in a row.
The game pushes you to experiment and try new combinations. It’s encouraged by providing more of the big picture story by having unique combinations of characters and roles. While I haven’t finished the game, I’ve seen some really wild story moments that make Gnosia a must-play.
Over the course of these loops, you’ll learn more about the individual crewmates, and you’ll discover their likes, dislikes, fears, desires, and much more. It’s a cast of eclectic and exciting characters that all bring something different to the experience.
One of the most challenging moments in Gnosia is having to fight your own inherent bias when choosing who to kill. You’ll learn to love some characters but hate others. However, none of that matters when voting. You are constantly reminded that each loop is separate, friends from previous loops don’t remember those friendships forged, and neither should you. One moment you’re in love, the next they are a snake oil dealer.
Anyone can be a Gnosia, and ultimately you’re forced to make tough decisions. It’s nothing personal, but it feels like it is. When removing someone from existence, it feels cold, calculated, but that’s the reality of the situation, and Gnosia does an incredible job and making you feel the weight.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say on Gnosia, but these are my (somewhat) early impressions of the game. The game is currently available on the Nintendo Switch.