PAX Prime 2014: Welcome to the Spy Party

spyparty-allchars_4x3-smPAX Prime serves as the featured showcase for so many AAA studios – it’s easy to miss out on some of the indie developers that are working with limited staff and budgets. So I took it upon myself to spend my first day at PAX away from the giant LED screens and sounds of gunfire emanating from the latest “CoD-killer” FPS, and instead, skirted the edges of the convention floor hoping to find games from developers that are just starting out. And in this quest for hidden gems, I happened to come across the delightfully novel indie game, Spy Party.

Developed by Chris Hecker and his team of…two other guys (John Cimino and Keith Millot), Spy Party is a 1v1 competitive game that puts each player in the role of sniper or spy. But from this seemingly familiar premise, Hecker and company have designed something truly unique.

Essentially, the spy is a guest at a high society party, filled with a variety of different characters. It is his job to complete a certain number of missions, such as planting a bug on the ambassador, or moving a piece of microfilm from one book to another, all while under the guise of a normal party guest. Meanwhile, the sniper, perched on a rooftop across the street, needs to locate the spy by carefully watching for subtle clues the spy gives as they attempt to complete their missions. Maybe they spent a little too much time talking to the ambassador. Or maybe they lingered a bit too long at the bookcase. Once the sniper feels like they have identified the spy, they can take him or her out with their rifle. But if they choose incorrectly, or if the spy completes all of their objectives, the sniper loses. This is a game that rewards careful observation subtlety over brute force. Each scenario is like a delicate dance, where the slightest misstep can give away the spy’s identity, yet the sniper is forced to take in so much information watching over all the potential guests, that they may miss a crucial mistake that the spy makes. The match with my opponent ended up being a tense showdown where I hoped to avoid detection, knowing all the while that I could be taken out by a sniper bullet at any moment. This delicious tension is only ratcheted up higher by the ever present timer, showing how much time I had left to complete my missions.

Although only one scenario was playable at PAX, I’m sure that the developers will be hard at work adding new missions and scenarios to add to replayability. The game is currently in beta, although anyone can pay for access to the beta at For $15, players will receive instant beta instant access as well the final version of the game when it is released. I recommend anyone who wants their video games to elevate beyond simple button mashing to give this great title a shot.

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