Best Of 2021: Gnosia’s Weaponization Of Monotony Is A Storytelling Triumph

Social deduction in video games reached an apex in 2020 thanks to Among Us, Innersloth’s multiplayer madhouse featuring treacherous, colored beans. However, one year prior the PlayStation Vita saw a Japan-only release that also focused on sniffing out impostors from a large group, only this time the game was a single-player affair. The game was Gnosia, developed by Petit Depotto, and this year it made its way to the West after being ported to Nintendo Switch. What seemed like a simple “find the impostor” game on the surface quickly grew into one of the most fascinating experiences of the year, one that showed me something I previously thought impossible: the benefits of monotony.

Gnosia is set on a ship adrift in space, its inhabitants plagued by a malevolent alien race. The titular Gnosia have taken the place of some of the ship’s crew, and it’s up the player to deduce who amongst the crew is a human and who is planning to kill everyone on board. Succeed and everyone still alive is saved, fail and the Gnosia take over the ship and offer it as a sacrifice to their alien deity.

Based on that description, you might wonder if the game is an hour long, but there’s a big twist: everyone on board is stuck in a time loop, going through the same cycle of deduction, discovery, and, at times, disaster. Only you and one other crewmate know about the loop, and are working to send the Gnosia packing and end the loop once and for all. However, ending the loop requires fulfilling certain parameters, like the player fulfilling a certain role or specific numbers of Gnosia in the group, which then unlock pieces of each character’s backstory. Unlock them all, and the loop can be broken.

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