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SpyParty hits Steam Early Access on April 12

The long-in-development spy vs. sniper game finally comes to Steam

Chris Hecker
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

SpyParty, developer Chris Hecker’s competitive 1v1 game that pits spy against sniper, is coming to Steam Early Access on April 12. It’s an important step in SpyParty’s long development, which has been led by Hecker and a tiny team of artists over the past eight years.

In addition to bringing SpyParty to a much wider audience — the game has been available for sale primarily on SpyParty’s website for the past half-decade — the Steam Early Access release has a few other important development milestones.

SpyParty now has a “fancy” new tutorial that will help players learn how to play the game, how to quietly and stealthily play as a spy, and what subtle animations and tells to watch out for as the sniper. Hecker showed me that tutorial in action over Skype last week, and it already looks clean, robust and streamlined. The tutorial walks players through some, but not all, of the spy’s missions, like how to contact a double agent at the party and swap a statue out for a fake while remaining undetected.

SpyParty’s tutorial mode
Chris Hecker

For players who want to dig deeper into where they went wrong during a game, there’s also a replay feature for studying matches. Players can scrub through games of SpyParty in slow motion and view different angles with a freely movable camera. A split-screen view offers perspectives from the spy’s and sniper’s points of view.

SpyParty’s Early Access release will also include six new playable venues, now built out with the game’s final artistic style. Each map — Balcony, Courtyard, Library, Gallery, Moderne and Terrace — will give players a variety of map shapes and lines of sight. A map like Library, for example, features a rather narrow corridor for the spy to work in, and plenty of objects to obscure the sniper’s view.

A look at the six overhauled maps is available in the gallery below.

Hecker also plans to have skill-based matchmaking ready for SpyParty’s Steam Early Access release. Currently, players need to invite each other to one-on-one matches, but Hecker is aware that that implementation for multiplayer simply won’t cut it on Steam.

SpyParty’s rollout to a wider audience — Steam has more than 67 million monthly active users — is nerve-wracking for Hecker, who has cultivated a small but dedicated and passionate audience over the past decade. During our call, he said he had concerns about how the larger Steam audience would react to a game like SpyParty, and how his existing audience would contend with an influx of new players.

But that dedicated SpyParty player base is very accommodating to new players, Hecker said, and can be incredibly welcoming. Many will offer to tutor or offer advice to their opponents after a game, he said. Given SpyParty’s subtle competitive gameplay, in which a spy tries his or her best to blend in with AI-controlled partygoers while a sniper tries to identify (and kill) them, it likely won’t draw the same audience who goes for team-based or 100-player battle royale games, but Hecker hopes new players will find something interesting and welcoming to them.

SpyParty, available for Windows PC and Mac, currently costs $15 via the game’s official website, but the Steam Early Access release will see a price increase. That’s not uncommon in games with a lengthy, public development cycle, and Hecker said it was his own players who told him he’s undercharging for his own game. The new price will be $24.99, Hecker said, but the game will be available at its existing price until the Early Access phase goes live.

Check out SpyParty’s new trailer below.

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