Dread Hunger Is a PvP Adventure That Will Put Your Friendships to the Test

Whether I was plotting the deaths of my fellow crewmates via occult magic or killing my ally out of fear that they’d betray me, Dread Hunger never allowed me to feel at ease – but in a good way. As I worked with my teammates to navigate an explorer’s ship past icebergs and through chilling blizzards, the threat of betrayal from within was omnipresent, and the temptation to keep checking over my shoulder was at odds with accomplishing the tasks set before me. As an evil Thrall working against the group, being outnumbered and the fear of being found out forced me to be smart with when and where to act against the group. Dread Hunger was constantly challenging me to be more clever no matter which side I was on, and it had me nervously laughing, screaming, and having an absolute blast in every match.

Dread Hunger is a social deception game first, but it’s also an adventure game with survival and crafting mechanics, exploration, and combat – and those components can come into conflict with social deception. Combat in particular can be problematic, because if you give a player a gun they’re going to want to shoot it at someone. If left unchecked, things can quickly spiral into a free-for-all PvP mode with none of the substance you’d want in a social deception game, but the developers are working to make those kinds of easy answers less feasible in their upcoming update.

The best mechanic I discovered as one of the treacherous Thralls is that each player gets one respawn after being killed, which allowed them to easily snitch on me if I cornered them alone and tried to kill them myself. Instead, I had to get creative with poison, use dark rituals to sic a pack of cannibals against someone traveling alone, sabotage the ship, or find other little ways to undermine the group, like throwing valuable coal into the river so it couldn’t be used by the crew.

Conversely, as a good guy, it was tempting to just kill someone I suspected of being a traitor. But, as I learned when I killed an innocent man out of mere suspicion, Dread Hunger doesn’t reward this kind of behavior. By killing someone based on conjecture, I mistakenly killed an ally instead and greatly decreased my chances of survival — not to mention made people a lot more suspicious of me! Instead, finding creative ways to expose the bad guys was my only hope of winning the day. The longer I played, the more I understood the nuances of when the group was ripe for betrayal or when it was proper to act on my suspicions of another person, and I was rewarded for that discipline and restraint.

The toolbox on both sides for uncovering the truth was intricate and chock-full of different strategies I could take. As a regular crew member, I could show my loyalty by openly contributing to the group’s progress, like by feeding my coal to the ship’s engine and healing injured crewmates. And, by keeping an eye out on who was being less helpful and/or in the proximity of people who happened to have poor luck befall them, I could help deduce who the traitors were.

As a villain, I had a bunch of dark rituals at my disposal, each meant to be used indirectly, so as to keep open combat only as a last resort, like the ability to fill the level with a thick fog, obscuring everyone’s vision and making most tasks take a lot longer. And rather than outright killing anyone, I could simply drag my feet and make everything take longer to increase our group’s chance of failure, like when I “accidentally” shot an ally during a fight with some wolves and wasted valuable time and resources healing her.

The longer I played, the more I understood the nuances of when the group was ripe for betrayal or when it was proper to act on my suspicions of another person, and I was rewarded for that discipline and restraint.

The delicate balance between adventure game and social deception is a challenging balancing act, but so far Dread Hunger seems poised to tackle that task by forcing players to be play smart or suffer the consequences of their ineptitude. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the game next.