By Chad Sapieha,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Social VR game hinges on unmoderated interaction, deception.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Promotes friendly, competitive social interactions but encourages, rewards fibbing.
Positive Role Models
Characters players take on -- werewolf, drifter, saint, and so on -- are helpful, antagonistic by design. But players speak for themselves using their own voices, so they control tone, personality of characters.
Ease of Play
Understanding rules, roles, objectives, abilities takes some time. Ultimately, success depends on player's ability to convincingly deceive others.
Violence & Scariness
Voting to eliminate a player causes colorful smoke to rush toward, envelop character.
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No scripted expletives, but players spend most of their time talking to each other by microphones without moderation. Kids may encounter strong, unfiltered profanity in game's community.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Werewolves Within is a social virtual reality game. Everything revolves around verbal interactions between players (a group of friends or strangers, depending on how you choose to play) who attempt to deceive each other about their identities while sitting together as a group to win. Play promotes friendly and competitive social interactions, but fibbing is a core part of the game -- and often rewarded. There isn't any violence (characters are engulfed in purple smoke and turn a ghostly white when others vote against them), and there are no sexual themes or use of alcohol or illicit substances. But keep in mind that players spend much of the game talking to each other and that strangers may bring up mature subjects, use profanity, or even supply or solicit identifying information. Parents should also be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.
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What’s It About?
WEREWOLVES WITHIN is a social virtual reality game inspired by real-world board games that see friends sitting around a table interacting with one another. Each player assumes the identity of a resident in a town infested with werewolves. Sitting together as a group around a table or campfire, players communicate with each other using their own voices, a selection of hand gestures, and certain types of movements, such as leaning left or right to whisper to only one other player. Each of the dozen or so characters has specific abilities they can use and objectives to achieve to satisfy their own win conditions. Generally, townsfolk are out to identify werewolves while werewolves want to protect their secret identities. A virtual book that can be called up with the tap of a button helps guide players as to what they can do and what they should be aiming to accomplish. Plus, you can play with friends or get matched up with a group of strangers for each round.
Is It Any Good?
If you enjoy being social and look forward to board game nights spent with friends and family, this might be just the VR game for you. Werewolves Within strives to -- and largely succeeds in -- creating a virtual reality that mimics the atmosphere of an evening spent playing a game with a small group of people around a table. Its clever VR interface -- which allows players to turn their heads to look at other players or lean to whisper to each other -- combines with more familiar video game mechanics, such as talking via microphones and pressing a button to make a hand gestures. It effectively tricks your brain into thinking that you're really sitting with a group of friends trying to deceive each other about who you're supposed to be. If you don't have enough friends with their own personal VR rigs and copies of the game to fill out a session, you can join a group of strangers.
As for the actual game, it's fun, if a little convoluted. Each of the dozen or so roles has unique abilities, such as sniffing out adjacent characters' identities or immediately knowing that a couple of roles cannot be in the group (and knowing that if someone says they're one of these roles, they're lying). Add in role-dependent win conditions, and it'll likely take most players a number of games in a variety of roles before they're confident they understand how everything works, how to properly strategize, and how to deceive based on the role they've been given. It should go without saying that if you're not comfortable in a social environment, a game like this -- which demands communication and that players be comfortable with bold-faced lying -- probably won't be much fun. Players who fit Werewolves Within's little niche, though, ought to be right at home.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about online safety. Werewolves Within could lead kids to play with online trolls or, worse, predators, so how do you identify when someone you meet online could be dangerous? What would you do if you were worried about their motives or intent?
Talk about games that involve deception. Deception is generally frowned upon in the real world, but many games -- especially social board games -- involve some level of dishonesty among players, so what makes fibbing fun in a playful setting? How do you know when to stop?
- Platforms: Oculus Rift, PlayStation 4, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: UbiSoft
- Release date: December 6, 2016
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Mild Fantasy Violence
- Last updated: August 19, 2022
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