5 Games Like Spyfall (Not Just Social Deduction Games)
Spyfall is a hugely popular game. Although not the first game in the genre, the popularity of Spyfall has boomed over the past few years. Designed by Alexandr Ushan, and published by Cryptozoic, Spyfall has proven itself time and time again as a challenging social deduction game that works for both experienced gamers and as an entry level game.
Spyfall is, what we in the gaming community describe as, a Social Deduction game. What that means is it is a game where one (or more) person/people in the group know something everyone else doesn’t. In turn they are lacking information themselves. It is up for those people to get the information they need, and it is up to the rest of the group to find that person. Sometimes Social Deduction can also be called Social Deception as it about trying to blend in.
Social deduction games, games like Spyfall, are usually games that thrive when playing with 4+ players. They are, by their very nature, social and thus perfect for family gatherings or dinner parties or similar such events.
That being said, I didn’t want this list to just be about social deduction games. We have three deduction games on the list, all of slightly different types. We also have a few other games that I think you will enjoy if you enjoy Spyfall. This isn’t about remaining within a genre of gaming, but also expanding and exploring after-dinner group gaming as a whole.
So, let’s assume you’ve played Spyfall. You know what the game is about and you like it – what are the next games to check out? What are a few games like Spyfall, but that add a slight twist on the Social Deduction formula? What are a few games that are similar in feel, but not necessarily in topic? What games are you likely to enjoy if you like this game? Let’s find out.
What Are A Few Games Like Spyfall –
There are a few quintessential games like Spyfall. For this article I thought I would format it a little bit differently and break each one out into a few core lines about each game followed by a more in depth discussion about what it brings to the table.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
Number of Players: 4 – 12
Concept: A murder has happened. You are detectives, looking to solve the case. The forensic scientist is processing the scene and has clues for you to contemplate. The downside is the murderer is in your midst. Not only is it up to you to figure out who committed the murder, but you also need the correct evidence and murder weapon.
Basics of the Game: In Deception: Murder in Hong Kong one player plays as the forensic scientist. The rest of the players are then dealt eight cards each – four pieces of evidence and four murder weapons – and one hidden role. The majority of the players will always be Detectives; however, there are a few additional roles. In the base game, and with fewer players, there is one Murderer. In larger games there may also be an Accomplice and a Witness.
Through a series of instructions it is up to the Murderer to dictate to the Forensic Scientist a murder weapon and a piece of evidence. The Forensic Scientist then needs to guide all the other players to that murderer, weapon, and evidence.
The game takes place over three rounds, wherein clues are indicated to by the Forensic Scientist. Everyone else can discuss and decide who they believe the murderer is.
What Makes Deception: Murder in Hong Kong worth your time? Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a game like Spyfall because it is down to social deduction; however, it is a step up. Spyfall is arguably lighter that Deception, however, it also isn’t as engrossing. During a game of Spyfall you may all know that you are at the spa, however, you are more interested in the people than you are the location. In Deception, the Forensic Scientist knows who the murderer is, but they can only communicate through clues. They need to paint a picture of the scene instead of just who the murderer is. That makes it both more immersive and more of a challenge.
You can read the full review of Deception: Murder in Hong Kong here.
Number of Players: 4 – 8
Concept: In teams, you must discover who your contacts are in a crowd. Each person has a codename or picture associated with them; however, it is up to your spymaster to determine who your spies are. Be careful not to choose civilians and be especially careful not to choose the assassin. Otherwise the game is over, and your opponents win.
Basics of the Game: Codenames Pictures is actually part of a much larger family of games like Spyfall, all designed by Vlaada Chvatil who is one of the great masterminds behind modern gaming.
In Codenames Pictures 20 trippy pictures are placed out on a table. The players are split into two teams and they must nominate a spymaster for each team. The two spymasters are then given a map, showing them a grid that indicates which of the 20 words are theirs to get their teams to guess.
It is then up to them to deliver clues denoting both a word and a number. The word is the clue, and the number is how many pictures the spymaster wants his/her team to guess at. For instant – a cactus, a flower, and a tree may give way to the clue “Plant, Three”.
The first team who identifies all of their spies, wins.
What makes Codenames Pictures worth your time? There are so many different forms of Codenames, and yet, for the sake of this article, you will notice that I have focused on Codenames Pictures and that is because it is my favourite version of the game. That being said, there are other Codenames and ultimately there is probably a version for everyone.
What makes Codenames different to Spyfall however is that while it is deduction within a social environment, it is not the same as the traditional Social Deduction game. You are not trying to figure out who one or two players are, but instead are presented with a puzzle you must try and figure out collectively. It is a collaborative experience, rather than it is necessarily a collaborative game.
What this does is make Codenames quick and easy to break out, fun for all who play it, and competitively semi-collaborative.
Number of Players: 2 – 7
Concept: A murder has happened at a Scottish Manor. You and a group of fellow mediums have been contacted to try and put the ghost of the murder at rest by exposing the truth behind what happened. The ghost will communicate with the medium, but only in the form of abstract dream cards. It is up to the mediums to denote the correct suspect, location, and murder weapon before the hour strikes seven.
Basics of the Game: A series of murderers, locations, and weapons are laid out on the table. One player becomes the ghost and, using identical cards, allocates the players each a murderer, weapon, and location behind a giant player screen. It is then up to the ghost to guide players there each turn.
At the start of each turn a few things happen. Firstly, a dream card (abstract cards showing weird imagery) is handed out from the ghost to each of the players. That player must use that card to guide them towards their murderer. A timer is flipped, and once it runs out, the players must guess who they believe their murderer is. The ghost can confirm or deny. If they are right, the player takes the murderer card, discards their dream, and moves onto locations before murder weapons. If they get it wrong they keep the dream card and try again, building upon that dream to create a more holistic picture.
There are several difficulty settings to Mysterium, making it a fantastic group game.
What makes Mysterium worth your time? Mysterium is different for a few reasons. It is not, per se, a type of Social Deduction game. Instead, Mysterium is more like a supernatural murder mystery you are all playing parts in. You are not trying to expose someone in your group as a fraud, but instead, you are looking to find your own murderers. This means, at least for the first part of the game, everyone can work together. It is in your collective interest for everyone to make their way through the game.
Mysterium is a unique game and one that is hard to directly compare to anything else, and that is because the designers did such a great job making the game accessible and different to anything else on the market. That being said, in many ways it is a game like Spyfall, not necessarily because it shares mechanics but because it shares that ‘after dinner’ quality. It is an adult group game. It is atmospheric. Most of all, it is memorable. No two games are the same and that can be really enjoyable.
You can read the full Mysterium review here.
Number of Players: 4 – 8
Concept: A party game for adults, offering an alternative to the likes of Spyfall and Cards Against Humanity. Scrawl takes the concept of Chinese Whispers and Telestrations, and takes it to a whole new level. It is a drawing party game in which crazy drawings can come out of it at the end.
Basics of the Game: Scrawl is a very simple game at its core. All the players sit around a table (as with most games) and they get given a card. The card has an item or concept on it. Each player has a white board and must draw what is on the card.
They then cover it with a second white board, and pass it on. The next player looks at the drawing, and writes down what they think it is. They then cover it up with another white board. The next person has to draw what was written, without looking at the original drawing. The next person has to write what was drawn. It goes around like that until everyone gets their original whiteboard back. Everyone reveals what they have.
What makes Scrawl worth your time? Scrawl is one of the ultimate party games for those 18+. Where a game like Spyfall can be played with kids, Scrawl is solidly an adult game. It is a great laugh and comedic, whilst also being a game that can while away a whole evening. It is fun and invigorating.
What really makes Scrawl different though is that it falls into two categories. It is a fun game for adult company, similar to Spyfall in the way that everyone is always engaged. Everyone always feels a part of the game because everyone has to draw and write at the same time. Everyone needs to participate in the same way.
It is different however, and different to most games, because of how it merges three different games in a way that feels original. It is a party game. It is a version of Chinese Whispers. It is a version of Telestrations. It is similar in ways to Cards Against Humanity; however, merging those three or four things makes for something really unique that everyone enjoys.
It is a game that everyone we play with enjoys. That says something in its own right.
You can read the full Scrawl review here.
Number of Players: 1 – 8
Concept: Four adventurers are going on a mission. Before they do so, however, they need to steal the equipment they need from a magical shopping mall. It randomly generates around them as they dash around within a time limit to try and find the things they need, before escaping. To do this they must all move at the same time, and because they are robbing the place they don’t want to make any noise.
Basics of the Game: Magic Maze is, to describe it in one word, chaos. The game starts with four pawns in the centre of one three by three board. Each player around the table is given a card showing the kind of motion that player can do. Player 1, for instance, may be able to move up, player 2 may be able to move down, player 3 may be able to use escalators, player 4 may be able to explore new tiles etc. The list goes on.
The timer gets flipped and it is up to the players to explore the maze-like mall as quickly as possible. They have five minutes to explore the maze, find what they need and get out. It sounds simple, right?
Wrong, and there are two major complications. The first is that after the first game, more and more rules, tiles, and actions get unlocked. It may become that whenever the timer is flipped everyone switches action, or that now there are security cameras etc.
The second complication is that the game is played in absolute silence. All players can do to communicate their thoughts is aggressively make eye contact and tap the “DO SOMETHING” pawn (a genuine token within the game) down in front of the player they want to act.
Once the pawns have all got to where they need to go – the purple pawn to the purple area, green to green, orange to orange, and yellow to yellow – they then need to find their exit. The game ends when everyone is out.
What makes Magic Maze worth your time? I wanted to include Magic Maze on this list for a few different reasons. Firstly, it is a fun, all inclusive, party game. Everyone needs to act and everyone needs to play a part. It is impossible for a map to be generated that does not need every player.
Secondly, Magic Maze really is unique. There is nothing I have come across on the market that comes even remotely close to Magic Maze in what it does. That makes it a game that people will likely love or hate; however, if they love it then they really will love it.
Magic Maze is a dexterity game, however, it is a social one. Although no one talks around the table that doesn’t mean there isn’t communication going on. It forces a group to really pay attention to each other, as well as what is going on with the rest of the board, and because of that it is brilliant.
You can read the full Magic Maze review here.
Today I wanted to create a list – not just of a few games that are spiritual counterparts to Spyfall, but that also span a few genres of gaming. These are all games that are likely to be enjoyable if you enjoy Spyfall. They are games like Spyfall and games that are different, but they are all housed under the same category of fun.
So, what do you think? What games would you recommend for fans of Spyfall? What social deduction games would you recommend, but also which games of other genres would you recommend as well? Let me know in the comments below.