I was supposed to be productive last weekend. I was supposed to be productive two weekends ago. I was supposed to write a ton of articles, organize my room, maybe record a video or two about video games. I was supposed to do all that until I was welcomed into this intriguing game named Town of Salem and since then I have abandoned all reason and played the game every chance I could get.
I first found out about Town of Salem through a friend who recommended it to me after I raved about playing Mafia with friends from high school. I searched for the game and found a few of my favorite YouTubers actually played it and I just glossed over their series. After watching one video, I became convinced to sign up and try it for myself. Two weeks later, I now have an excel sheet of my strategies for every role in the game.
It was odd at first. The idea of accusing strangers on the internet or defending yourself from a semi-fictional and semi-literal mob was surreal. Yet for the most part, I owned my role and did whatever it took to succeed. Two weeks later, I now have an excel sheet of my strategies for every role in the game.
When I realized how much time, energy, and motivation I lost to playing this traitorous game, I was disturbed. Not because I spent hours and hours of playing this game, I had bouts of losing entire evenings and weekends to video games. I was disturbed because I actually lost so many waking, productive hours to a game like Town of Salem.
How could a browser-based (though they do have it on Steam), social game take over my life like that?
Now that I’ve mustered all my energy and will to focus and write this down, here’s an attempt to answer that question.
Sorry, I mean…
1. It’s like a grand social experiment
Think Vaultec except there is no nuclear disaster and we’re all aware of what’s going to happen. Much like many of the known vaults in the Fallout Universe, Town of Salem pushes humanity to the limit and unleashes our darker side. This is especially true when the townies (essentially the good guys) aren’t having a good game. I have seen players lose their rationality because of sheer panic. They’ve ended up accusing and lynching their fellow teammates.
Even bad guys are willing to give up their own teammates for the sake of their survival. A mafia member is accused in front of the town, half of the time you would see their own teammates voting guilty and lynching them so they won’t seem suspicious.
You do things right and you live to see another day. Screw up and you’ll either die or earn the ire of your teammates until you die or commit suicide (disconnecting from the game).
2. Unleash your inner manipulator
I’ll boldly say that games like Trouble in Terrorist Town and Murder are nothing compared to the manipulation that takes place in Town of Salem. While TTT and Murder relies on stealth, Town of Salem relies on your ability to mess with your opponents.
The good guys can rely on sound logic but a mafia team that has incredible coordination can manipulate and throw off an entire town. Likewise, a mafia team can be efficient but a couple of clever town members (or neutral evils for that matter), can burn their evil plans.
One of the most thrilling roles to take on is Godfather. It’s absolutely hilarious to watch a town have a total meltdown when manipulate them to do your bidding. Act as a Sheriff and have a Framer target the right person, and you end up having town members pointing fingers and do the murdering for you.
Play long enough and Town of Salem will be the reason why you have trust issues.
3. It’s an absolute headrush
Most of the time every single night is a build up to a climax. Whether you play a townie, evil, or neutral you will always feel the stakes rise with every night. The first two nights may feel dull, but as soon as the accusations start flying, the game heats up immediately.
Lookout accuses Escort. Escort asserts her innocence. Townie corroborates her story but Framer does quick work of reputation that night and on the next day Investigator accuses the Escort again.
Mafioso makes the wrong move and the informed Jailor or Vigilante will handle the situation with a bullet to their head. After which the mafia will scramble to come up with a new plan.
Neutrals also get a slice of the thrill, too. If you’re a neutral role it’ll all depend on how you play with the two sides. I’ve seen survivors side with mafia and townies cast aside their fellow teammate for an immune Executioner. Serial Killers and Witches are the most nerve-wracking to play.
4. You shape the town’s story
Now this one, not a lot of people may relate to but I love how Town of Salem is set up for you to form your story. While the roles have their own lore to back them up, I sometimes like to think that the players form their own loose narrative with every death, screw-up, and lynch that occurs.
Also, have you seen games that have a majority of players actually follow a set theme? They’re rare, but oh are they a delight to see.
Do you play Town of Salem? Let me know and maybe we can exchange usernames and play a round or two one time.