Before I truly start this review, I must admit something. I love this game and the base game of One Night Ultimate Werewolf that it expands upon. This series of games has become such a staple in my house that it is practically a meme, with endless in-jokes about it from my friends. My family even own Team Villager T-shirts. There is just something fun and simple about One Night Ultimate Alien. It is requested at every party: a quick ten minute game for 4-10 players.
One Night Ultimate Alien is a social deduction game; players taking on different roles each time they play. They must use their wits to solve the mystery of who the aliens are, or lie their way out of trouble. Bézier Games have published an entire series of these, with different fantastic creatures added each time, and the Alien expansion is just as wacky as the others.
What's in the Box
13 Role Cards (12 new roles)
13 Role Tokens
10 Number Tokens
2 Vote Tokens
1 Getting Started Guide
1 Rules Booklet
Like the base game, One Night Ultimate Alien is quick and easy to set up. It requires the free One Night app, available on both Android and iOS devices. From there, players select which roles they would like to use. This is equal to the number of players plus three. The cards are shuffled and distributed, with the extra three placed facedown in the centre. Players then secretly view their role.
The app must also be set up. This is a simple process of selecting the roles to match the cards in play. It also allows for various gameplay elements to be tweaked: changing timing, volume, and even the voice of the narrator. Moreover, the best part about the app, in my humble opinion, is the music option. Until you've tried it, you will never know the joy of opening one's eyes during the game night to see nine other people wiggling around to the game's disco theme.
It must be noted, that Alien uses the app in a far more interactive way than Werewolf. Due to this, the device on which the app is playing must be kept within the reach of players. Furthermore, unlike Werewolf, all players must be assigned a number. The app often refers to these for extra mischievous gameplay.
The basic premise of One Night Ultimate Alien is that strange beings have infiltrated a small village. They bring terrifying technology and an appetite for villagers. It is the duty of those on the village team to discover the aliens, and the aliens to avoid suspicion. At the beginning of the game night, players close their eyes. They are invited to open them when it is time for their role. By the end of the night, cards will be switched and suspicions raised. It is then time to discuss and make accusations.
The game can be combined with other packs from the One Night series. The gameplay booklet contains examples of how to do this. In my opinion, it should be actively encouraged. The game can feel unbalanced at times unless rules are carefully selected. You may have too many aliens, and therefore they always go undetected. Alternatively, the villagers may have too many powers of their own, and the aliens may be caught easily. Some of the roles, such as the Leader and the Blob are really only effective in a large game.
The game is at its best when it combines logic with mystery: when players can narrow their suspects through their abilities, but still have that hint of uncertainty when casting their vote. Therefore, a surefire way to balance the game is to take villager cards from the Werewolf game. These can be mixed among the new, more powerful roles of Alien.
The game comes with twelve new roles. On the Alien team, there are two regular Aliens, a Synthetic Alien, and two Aliens named Groob and Zerb. While the regular aliens function similarly to the werewolves in the previous game, the others are different. The Synthetic Alien reminds me of the Tanner in that it only wins if killed. It believes that its advanced technology is too dangerous to exist. Groob and Zerb wake together after seeing the other aliens. They spend the game attempting to assassinate one another, without alerting the villagers. It's a difficult role, but a very amusing one.
There are some standout roles on the village team too, my favourite being the Cow. The Cow doesn't wake but sticks out their fist when the aliens are awake. If an alien is sat beside them, they must tip the Cow by tapping their fist. The Oracle is an interesting addition in that they interact with the app directly, answering a question. Sometimes it is a useful question, sometimes not. Sometimes it even asks if the Oracle would like to change their allegiance.
One Night Ultimate Alien also contains several roles on their own team. These roles have their own agenda. Perhaps my favourite of these is the Blob: a gelatinous monster eating other players. These players are then assimilated onto a new team.
Having aliens in the game can trigger ripples in space-time, a new game event. It always occurs at the end of the night, and the effects can be far-reaching. Some ripples may give a player an ability or allow certain numbered players to take an action. At its most extreme, the ripple may force the players to repeat the entire night phase.
Personally, I enjoy bluffing games. It has reached a point where my friends immediately check my card if they can during the game. But that is the beauty of One Night Ultimate Alien. It fosters suspicion, forces players to read one another, and often, get it wrong! That moment of triumph, when escaping suspicion, or the tragic sense of betrayal when a friend tells a convincing lie, is addictive. It will bring players back again and again, and this new expansion simply adds to the fun.