Werewolves Within is a board/cardgame adaptation and a role playing game in the most literal sense of the word. It’s not available for Rift, Vive and Playstation VR users – and we’re reviewing the latter.
Our choice of platform would not have mattered too much by the way, since Ubisoft has managed to unlock cross-platform multiplayer for Werewolves Within, allowing you to play with other gamers regardless of the platform they’re using. There are no settings required for this either, and how seamless it all works was illustrated by our first play session, which included players from all three platforms.
In Werewolves Within, people playing are assigned roles at the start of each game, and the aim of the game is to find out who’s who and to oust those players who don’t serve your purpose. This might mean teaming up with someone, pointing the finger at an innocent player, or delivering a monologue to try and sway people’s minds.
Yes, it’s the type of game best enjoyed in a social dynamic, and many will have played the original game in a real life setting already. Ubisoft’s adaptation shows us that that experience translates well to a virtual environment, even if that environment can never fully replace the intricate dynamics that take place when people occupy the same room.
Instead, Werewolves Within makes good use of voice/chat functions, body language and head tracking. By accurately measuring what you’re looking at, you can make eye contact with other players, and perhaps start scheming together. When you’re a werewolf, the last thing you want if for the other players to point their fingers at you – so you will try to frame someone else. If you’re a saint, you can actually tell who the werewolves are – but how do you convince others of this? And how do you keep the werewolves from manipulating the group into voting you out, because when they learn your identity it becomes a key to winning for them.
There are other roles and ways to win, making sure everyone has a stake in how the game plays out. The werewolf and saint characters feel like the most interesting of all roles though, with various villager roles as ‘supporting actors’ – even though they have their own objectives. If you’re a deviant, you win by having others vote for you – but it still feels like everyone is mostly preoccupied with finding out who the werewolf (or werewolves) in the group are. As roles as randomized, this isn’t a big deal.
Werewolves Within is a truly unique type of videogame, and that has very little to do with crossplatform multiplayer or the fact that this is a card/boardgame adaptation. It’s all about how virtual reality adds a layer to an online social experience that just wouldn’t be possible without it. Without body language, exchanges of looks and the spoken word, this game could never succeed. Thanks to virtual reality, it does – even if it’s probably still more fun to play a game like this in real life. A worthwhile experiment in social virtual reality gaming for everyone with a headset though!