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First Impressions: Town of Salem

The town of Salem, Massachusetts is famous for being the birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne and being the location that inspired his novels including The House of Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter. However, it is probably best known for the infamous witch hunts of the late 17th century. During which time, the people of Salem were enveloped in a mass hysteria that threatened to tear the small, puritan community asunder. This atmosphere sets the setting perfectly for nearly any game of deception.
With party games such as Cards against Humanity being ported to an online setting as E-party games, it was only a matter of time before Mafia found its way there as well. The rules of Mafia are simple, or not depending on the people that you play with. It’s one of those party games that has different rules depending on who your host may be. For the most standard versions of Mafia, the rules are as such: A “God” assigns people as Mafia, Civilian or doctor using randomly distributed playing cards; if you’re a member of the Mafia, your goal is to wipe out every other player during the nights in between rounds and keep yourself (and your partner(s)) alive using deception and honeyed words. If you’re a civilian, your role is to piece together social cues that the other players give off to discover who the Mafia members are and subsequently execute them through a public vote. The last role that’s more or less standard is the doctor. The doctor can heal one person every night or themselves to keep the Mafia from murdering every other person.
Blank Media Games’ Town of Salem is functionally the same game. However, instead of the simple three role system that the party game had established, the E-party game has over twenty including serial killer, mayor and werewolf. This in and of itself is one of the game’s biggest victories and biggest flaws. The reason for it being a victory is that it gives depth and complexity to what was and continues to be a simple party game with minimal error. The flaw in this is that it presents an incredibly high learning curve that takes multiple games to get over and that’s just for the basic roles. The game allows a host to customize the roles in the game if the custom setting is chosen allowing for a greater diversity of roles in a match. This adds nearly fifteen possible roles to the already large role list. If a host is away from their keyboard, the lobby is allowed to re-pick randomly preventing almost all unnecessary waiting.
Another thing that the creators did to make the game more fun is that they made an array of zany game types that are available if a player wishes to spice things up. Because it is a party game, Town of Salem is most fun if played with other people. However, not having anyone to play with does not make the game boring by any means; when a game starts, a player creates an alias to throw off other players that may know you and in my experience; I’ve seen a lot of role playing occur.
Because of what it’s supposed to be, I can’t find anything else besides the faults that I mentioned above and because of the huge family that I grew up in; Mafia holds a place near and dear to my heart. I’ll never forget the cries of betrayal and the looks of surprise that were given as my cousins discovered who the Mafia actually were and because Town of Salem emulates the feeling so well, I believe that it will continue to grow in popularity.