When Gnosia was first shown during the December 2020 Indie World Presentation, it was immediately compared to Among Us.
Indeed, at a first glance, the previously Japan-exclusive Gnosia does have a premise that brings to mind Among Us. Similarly to the 2020 phenomenon, Gnosia also takes place in a futuristic sci-fi setting, where you are a member of a stranded spaceship. Before you even get to learn more about what is really happening, though, you have to deal with the fact that there are crew members infected with the titular gnosia – a kind of alien presence which turns the host into someone whose only objective is to kill humans. However, disposing of the gnosia isn’t an easy task. The person doesn’t look any different from before, so the crew need to do their best to read through their lies and put the imposter into cold sleep.
Gnosia progresses through repeatable loops, which can be divided in as many days as needed. Every day, you’ll need to engage in Werewolf/Mafia-style conversations in order to decide which one is going to be put in cold sleep. If you happen to choose the wrong person, the gnosia will take the chance to kill someone during the night. After every gnosia is put to sleep – or, if there are the same number of remaining gnosia as there are of normal crew members – then the loop ends, and you’ll get to know if you have failed or succeeded. While these rules form the simple concept behind Gnosia, the game does add a series of overlapping elements to spice things up at each new loop.
First, there is the fact that every single character in Gnosia has a unique personality, specific behaviours, and different relationships between each other. Consequently, every new loop becomes an opportunity to learn more about each character. This is especially important, because the roles will change randomly at every loop. A character that was gnosia before, can easily be an ally now – however, their personality won’t change. Discovering their strengths and weaknesses can be the difference between a successful loop and your demise.
That isn’t all that Gnosia has to offer, though. As the game progresses, interesting new roles are added such as the engineer, who can check an active crew member to see if they are gnosia, or the doctor who can check if the last crew member put in cold sleep was infected. However, those new roles aren’t really a facilitator for the non-infected. On the contrary. While each loop can have only one engineer and one doctor, the gnosia can lie, pretending to be the real deal. Seeing behind the facade is a challenge per se, but convincing others of the truth can be even harder.
Another cool detail that really changes things up in Gnosia lies in how it has some RPG elements incorporated. Your character has an ability chart, which is divided into six different perks. Every new loop will reward you with a different number of experience points, depending on your success. You can spend these points to increase your abilities, which not only will improve your performance during the dialogues, but can also unlock new skills that can be used to turn around the conversations. With those additional skills, you can choose to take an active role, doubting those you think are gnosia, or covering your friends. If you stand out too much, though, the gnosia can choose you as a target. The contrary is equally dangerous. If you choose to stay silent for too long, people will start to doubt your intentions.
As much as the detective loop of Gnosia is entertaining by itself, the game also presents an extremely compelling narrative that progresses with time. Every night, you can visit one character, to strengthen your relations with them. As you learn more about each character’s background, you’ll slowly unveil the real reason why that loop is happening to begin with. It must be said, though, the loop aspect of Gnosia can become repetitive at times, especially during the moments where you fail on subsequent runs, unable to get any new information about the characters or the narrative.
Thankfully, Gnosia compensates for those ‘boring’ segments with extremely refreshing, rewarding, and interesting narrative moments. There’s an unparalleled feeling as to when you finally unlock a new custom cutscene involving a specific character, or a unique dialogue that reveals something about the truth behind the gnosia threat. Moment after moment, Gnosia manages to keep you hooked to learn more about what is happening – and it totally delivers a superb final solution to the ever-present mystery.
As much as you can compare Gnosia to Among Us, the game is actually a unique mixture of different genres. As a visual novel with RPG elements, it presents a compelling tale, which is portrayed with a beautiful anime art style. It totally pays off any kind of repetitiveness with an incredibly rewarding narrative, becoming one of those games that, whilst not perfect, should really be experienced by as many people as possible.
Gnosia Review £22.49
With its unique take on social deduction gameplay and its unexpected mix of visual novel and RPG, Gnosia delivers an experience that’s unlike any other. Despite being repetitive at times, its narrative engages up to the very last twist – which is extremely satisfactory.