Four little puppet people are sitting around a table, waiting for everyone to ready up so that the game can begin. The puppet avatars are in various states of fear, jumping randomly, looking around, reaching over to try to touch the other puppets. They look like they came out of “Coraline” with their button eyes and hair made of yarn. These are the survivors of “Identity V” and in a few moments, they will be thrown into a game of death and deciphering.
“Identity V” is a one versus four survival horror game, akin to “Dead by Daylight.” You play either as a survivor or a hunter. Hunters, like the name suggests, hunt down the survivors while they try to decipher four clues to open the gates to let them out of the manor they are stuck in.
It is a magnificently ambient game, leaning into horror aspects that more build a sense of dread than are outright terrifying. The aesthetics of the characters are incredibly diverse, especially on the hunter side, where you have both a vengeful forest spirit and a violinist whose fading fame led to him making a deal with a demon. The base outfits for the characters make them all stand out and be pretty recognizable, saving for a few of the taller and lankier hunters who I will, without fail, always get confused with one another unless I am right up in their face, at which point it will be far too late for me for it to matter if I’m being killed with an umbrella or a violin’s bow.
The biggest issue I had at first is how long the tutorial was. I started it months ago, got frustrated with how long the tutorial was taking and then picked up again only to find out I was maybe five minutes away from finishing it, only accounting for another practice game and the time it took the detective to move from the mirror to the chair to the painting.
It’s honestly kind of a shame I don’t remember much of the tutorial other than the feeling of frustration that was creeping on me as I was barred time and time again from just playing and learning on my own, because quite a bit of lore is dropped within it, especially surrounding the tutorial character, Orpheus. In terms of story, the developers have taken a drip approach, where you get hints towards a character’s backstory the more you play them, as long as you accomplish the goals to allow for your next deduction. This deduction system can be kind of frustrating as well, if it’s a particularly challenging goal as you need to be able to escape the game to get credit for solving it.
The downside of it being both a mobile and a free game is that there are quite a bit of microtransactions within the game, but for the most part, they seem fair. You need to unlock additional survivors and hunters with currency, but you do start with multiple survivors and there is a daily rotation of characters that go free to play. Most cosmetics require purchasing within the ingame store or are drawn from a selection of loot boxes. You can acquire most currency just by logging in daily and playing the game, with the exception of echoes, which require purchasing with real money, which really dampens the negative effect of needing currency to unlock more characters. Echoes will get you pretty much anything you want from the store, but other currencies are more selective in their usages.
I’ve said that there are quite a few downsides but that doesn’t make the game bad at all, in fact, it’s because of how much fun that I have when I’m ingame that the minor frustrations seem to be made that much more frustrating. I’m not a game designer, I can’t claim to know how to fix them, but when so many other things went right such as the perfect balance between hunter and survivors and the currency system, a tutorial that is so long a player might forget the minutiae of what they’ve been told and occasionally frustrating to get lore stand out just a bit more.
“Identity V” is available on both mobile platforms and the computer. Cross platform is available and progress transfers between the two, so you can play at home and on the go if you find you don’t have a preference between the platforms.
Photo Courtesy of Identity V’s official Instagram page