July 22, 2022

Sinister Night

Sinister Night

Developer: zstar
Initial Release Date: June 8, 2022
Genres: Multiplayer, Social Deduction
Platform: Steam, Microsoft Windows

Sinister Night is a game that makes you form bonds, distrust your friends, and develop a thirst for murder. This is Phasmo meets Among us, but with much better detailing. The plot is simple, five or eight streamers go to a haunted school for clout, and one to two of them, depending on the game mode, get possessed and decide to murder their friends. This is the first game release I can find from zstar who both developed and published this game.

Sinister Night is a social deduction game at its finest; you are given clues through ritual results, as well as tools that you can pick up or buy from the store. These items include night vision cameras, tracking orbs, and a bird that cheeps when near someone who is possessed. There is also lore hidden around the map in the form of diaries. These can be sold for in-game currency to purchase items.

When playing for the first time, the game gives you control hints that help you start the game straight away. That is a bonus for players like me that launch straight into a game head first.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of the game, and the occasional jump scares. Survivors have a sanity meter that, when depleted, shows you to the possessed for an easier kill. This means you need to not only perform the rituals but maintain your sanity. Running will also deplete your sanity, so choosing when to run is as important as keeping your sanity up.

The possessed are not only trying to sabotage rituals but to gain enough evil power through crystals and other items. There are different types of spirits with different powers. I personally got to play as a shapeshifter with absolutely zero success. You'll see... Once the possessed have enough evil energy, they can transform and kill another player. When this is triggered the game shifts entirely,  all the survivors can do is run and hide, hoping for it to time out without a death.

Once the timer is over, if someone is killed, the game directs you to find the body and hold a meeting. In these meetings, the dead get a public vote to accuse someone else and are allowed 30 seconds to give as much information as possible before being placed into spectator mode. This can really change the whole direction of the game and got me murdered a couple times.

I would be remiss to not discuss the issues that some of us have had with the game. There is a lack of servers within North America and Europe. Asia luckily, does not seem to have this problem. Being in Europe, I've played the game for over three days and have encountered this issue. I did not face the issue many complained about of getting kicked out of Asian servers, but this is a repeated complaint. Some have also complained about people creating locked servers. There is an option to create a passcode to join, and whilst I can understand player frustration, as a streamer, I know that this can actually be key for moderation when individuals play on their own branded platform.

This issue was much more prevalent before the devs responded to the complaints by adding a five-person mode. Originally it was eight players only to start a game, but the developer added a second mode to allow five players, with only one possessed. Developer zstar is not only very responsive to criticism but is always submitting new updates and changes based on player feedback. zstar has also created a discord server for those looking to find matches in their own country and language.

As I said earlier, I played this game on 3 occasions to not only get a real feel of Sinister Night, but also to investigate the server complaints. On day one, I played on an Asian server of eight players. I was tied up first due to my own fault, but I did not feel as though I was targeted or attempted to be unincluded even if I couldn't speak with them during the discussion. On the second day, I again played on Asian servers, not managing to survive but again of my own fault. I found a game with some chaps from the Netherlands and had a lot of fun in a five-person game, even adding them on steam to play more games in the future. On day three, I met a fellow content creator whose group not only welcomed me into their discord chat but treated me as everyone else in the group. We played quite a few games together even though there was clearly a skill discrepancy.

I think the community I've met during my time with Sinister Night has been great, and whilst I understand the frustration with servers, I think once you get into a game, you can easily get involved and make friends.

I know the reviews have been mixed, but honestly, I enjoy this game a lot, and it is likely something I will continue to play. At £7.14/$9.99 I think the price for the replayability is on the higher end, but due to the number of updates, it is worth it. I want desperately to give this an 8.8, but due to the lack of players, I need to give it an 8/10 because I can get a game, and I thoroughly enjoy my time when I do. There is occasionally a bit of waiting to get a game. The developers have been improving this constantly, making me wish more people were playing. If there was a cross over free to play mobile version this could top not only Phasmo but also Among Us.

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