NewSpeak from In the Box Games – Preview

One of the things I look for in games is something that makes me think different than I’m used to. NewSpeak does that.

Theme and What is it?

*NOTE* This game is still on Kickstarter and is subject to change.* 

**Note** Copy of the game provided by the publisher for review purposes.

The future is bright. Everything is Wonderful. Everyone is happy. We live in an ideal society. People are well cared for and happy…happy…happy…

WAKE UP SHEEPLE! They’re lying to you. Society is a cesspit and we’re all getting fooled twenty-four seven. Don’t worry though. The resistance is going to save us all by peeling back the Chroma-colored lenses they’ve bolted over our eyes. For the people…people…people…

…Everything is fine.

 

In NewSpeak you are a member of the Dissidents or the Moderators. Your job will be to either protect the system or bring it down. The dissidents will be talking in code, an ever changing system of language in order to coordinate their movements.

But, the Mods are listening. Hearing your words and trying to decipher them to beat you to the location and lock it down.

Who can lock down the future first? Maybe the herring will jump the bushes? It’s really up to you.

Gameplay Mechanics

NewSpeak is a social deduction game. In it the players are divided into two teams. One team is attempting to gather together and hack a location from an array of nine. The other team in there to stop them.

The hackers or Dissidents all have a set of code cards. The cards each feature a common list of words and their true meanings. One dissident is marked as the leader for the round and they begin speaking in code using the card. They will use a couple of words from the sentence to mean other things.

For example, the word fly appears as a core word. Depending on what code your using it can mean anxious, outdoor, smile, or nothing at all. So the lead may say something like, “I’m flying cross country next week.” Because they want to go to the theme park and are using the code where outdoor is the matching meaning.

The moderators listen to the conversation and try and decode the messages. Using the previous example. Since they have access to all the codes they don’t know if the players are going to the theme park, construction site, or riverside. However, the players aren’t going to stop at that one word. They’ll have two minutes to talk and try and narrow down where they’re going.

After the Dissidents have gone they all secretly choose a location to hack. The moderators then spend a minute figuring out where they want to protect. After that the dissidents reveal their target and depending on how many people choose what one side or the other wins. After a side locks down three locations they win.

Initial Impressions

I like code games and secret words. I love the idea of Thieves Kant found in Dungeons & Dragons, the hidden language that thieves use to have conversations in the open. I even have a weird fascination with these in real life. The Disney Parks have an amazing system of code words that’s just awesome.

NewSpeak hit a wonderful place where you need to be creative quickly in order to get a point across. I also love the look of this game and it had a real They Live feel, (one of my favorite movies). Because of all of that I was ready to try this game. I was very excited to play this.

Artistic Direction

What art I’ve seen is fantastic. I’m not sure how much of it is final as this is still a Kickstarter game and hasn’t reached a final level yet. I suspect the art will remain unchanged. The appearance of the real world against the filtered version of the world is really nice. The way they made the filtered world look like someone slapped an Instagram filter over the real world is impressive as hell.

Fun Factor

This is a quick thinky game. It’s a nice puzzle for both sides. You’ll be trying to solve the mystery of what the lead dissident is saying. Whether you’re a moderator or a fellow dissident, you need to decode the message. 

Age Range & Weight

The game doesn’t currently list an age but I would drop it at late teens. The code talking would get a bit too confusing for younger players. Weight wise they call the game light and I agree with that. It’s fast enough that you won’t be agonizing over losses because you’ll be able to start again in a minute.

Conclusions

I love this game. It’s a fun bit of mental gymnastics that hits me right in the sweet spot. I had fun with this. One of the things I look for in games is something that makes me think different than I’m used to. NewSpeak does that. Trying to figure out how to describe the neighborhood with the available code words and get it across to the other players is a fun kind of challenge.

Our first game was rough as we were all getting used to how to talk in the games style. Game two went much smoother. It may take you a game or two to get into the way the game is played. It’s worth the short adjustment period.

One of the things I find the most enjoyable in NewSpeak is finding that balance between enough clues and too many. It’s easy to try and slam so many words into a sentence that everyone gets lost. I like trying to use one or two words and letting the rest of the team ask questions.

Playing the moderators is just as challenging. Since you don’t know exactly which code the dissidents are using you have to try and put the words to a location. It also doesn’t help that each code has one word that means nothing. The use of this word and the ability to figure out when the dissidents are using it is probably one of the most important things to master.

The set of words feels good. I think they put a lot of work into this and it feels like there’s real care put into this. I’m excited to see the final version and see other people get their hands on it. Check out the Kickstarter, I think this is worth the time.