Paranoia is a powerful, powerful emotion. At its most benevolent, it can cause us humans to be skeptical and not take what’s being presented to us at pure face value, allowing us to postulate alternative explanations to the facts at hand which could – could – actually be more accurate. More often, though, paranoia overtakes and short-circuits that handy dandy logic part of our brain and forces us to think more emotionally. Facts become disrupted, distorted, and twisted to suit the narrative that we’ve formed in our end. It is the antithesis of Occam’s Razor: the principle that the simplest answer tends to be the most likely. It’s how you get from thinking that a car behind you is merely traveling in the same direction to a car that’s trailing you on behalf of some shady network of businessmen because you left a rather scathing Yelp review for Tom Terrific’s Burrito Bonanza. Paranoia can make us think and do many crazy things, and if left unchecked, especially in group situations, it can lead into some pretty negative outcomes.
Exploring the idea of paranoia on personal and societal levels has been a recurring topic for scholars and literary writers for centuries. But it is particularly common in the realm of science fiction, a genre that often uses it as part of its commentary on whatever topic it’s trying to bring attention to. It’s why, for instance, it pops up in some many stories about dystopian settings where people are oppressed and lied to as the corrupt, autocratic, or even authoritarian rulers maintain control. It’s seen frequently in stories that probe the idea that the world you know isn’t always as it seems, encouraging readers not to take everything they see at 100% face value. And it’s a regularly occurring motif in stories about aliens and their intent when coming across humanity, often used as a vehicle to simultaneously explore the concept of The Other, the outsider, and how we as a people react to that situation when it happens.
It’s also super common trope in infiltrator stories, when one or more people have been replaced by someone – or some Thing – and the fear of not knowing you can trust anymore.
We see this all the time in gaming when it pertains to social deduction games (who is the werewolf/traitor/vampire/evil clown named Reginald), as well as games about a hidden traitor. These games explore the same idea, just in a more interactive way.
However, long before The Resistance, Dead of Winter, or Shadows Over Camelot was created – or their designers were even born – there came along a story called Who Goes There? Dubbed one of the best early science fiction stories, in 1938 Who Goes There? told the tale of an isolated science team who accidentally releases a shapeshifting alien who systematically goes around killing members of the expedition and assuming their forms. Tensions mount as the group has to simultaneously reconcile the fact that they can’t leave for fear of infecting humanity while also trying to handle the reality that more and more of the group is being replaced by a malevolent force. How can it be stopped? Who can you trust? Will anyone make it out alive?
If it sounds like you’ve heard that story before, you probably have. It’s become a staple story template of sci-fi shows from The Twilight Zone, to The X-Files, to Star Trek. It likely also had a hand in the inspiration for such movies as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Alien, each of which would go on to be famous for exploring the same concepts in their own right. But Who Goes There? is likely best known from its own movie adaptation in John Carpenter’s 1982 film, The Thing.
Who Goes There?, the new title from Certifiable Games, follows the same blueprint.
Initially a co-op, players must work together to survive the arctic environment or risk dying from the elements. Players must pool their resources to craft items, trade goods, and avoid mistakes which will bring on an early demise. This is particularly well represented by the game’s item upgrade system, wherein different goods can be combined to make better ones as the dangers of the camp escalate. All the while, everyone must contend with the fact that an alien imposter may (or may not) be among them, which culminates in the game’s finale when players must decide who will be allowed on the escape helicopter. If the alien manages to get out, chances are high the human players lose. But if suspicion overtakes good judgment and too few humans are allowed on to the helicopter, you could also lose. So choose your actions carefully, but be on guard. You are fighting for your survival, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can trust everyone with you.
The struggle is real. Let the paranoia begin…
Now, it’s one thing to merely imagine this scenario and another to experience it first-hand. So we’ve decided to help you out by providing a copy of the game to test it out yourself. Will you make it out alive? Who – if anyone – is the alien? There’s only one way to find out! Let the paranoia begin…
From now until September 9th you can check the contest out on our Facebook page, or by entering below. Just follow the entry form and proceed with the contest. The more you do, even if just one, you still have a better chance than not entering at all. Of course you’re welcome to do that too. But your odds of winning drop to zero. No pressure or anything.
The Fine Print: The Cardboard Republic, in conjunction with Certifiable Games is giving this game away strictly for entertainment purposes. This act is not a paid endorsement by Certifiable Games or any other entity. This contest is open to individuals only. Staff members of The Cardboard Republic and Certifiable Games are not eligible to participate. For winners outside of the Continental US, the publisher reserves the right to request they cover part or all of the shipping costs.