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Is "Town of Salem" on Steam Worth Playing?

J.J. is a freelance researcher, writer, and editor. She loves science, history, and "weirdness". Oh, and gaming. Lots of gaming.

ToS takes place in a fictionalized version of Salem, Mass., made infamous for the "Salem Witch Hunts" of 1692. Witch is a Neutral(Evil) role in the game.

ToS takes place in a fictionalized version of Salem, Mass., made infamous for the "Salem Witch Hunts" of 1692. Witch is a Neutral(Evil) role in the game.

In the 1.1.0 update patch notes, BMS announced several new features that affect some of the issues recorded in this article. Those changes are mentioned below, as well as recorded in the original text further down.

  • The new end-game lobby, among other features, promises an improvement to the reporting system. Specifically, it allows users to report players and see their account names.
  • Additionally, there will now be occasional moderators in the games who have the ability to warn, suspend, or ban people directly. This looks to be a decent solution to reported users going weeks before action is taken.

After its initial release, issues with the achievement system have been rectified, but there are still ongoing issues with cheating and spamming. Servers recently experienced a DDoS-like attack, though that seems to be fixed for now. The developers have also announced a "Leaver-Buster" system is officially in the works, though it has not been implemented as of yet. This page will be updated in the future as new features release. All changed info is annotated below.

What Is It?

Town of Salem is an RPG inspired by classic party games like Mafia and Lupus In Tabula. Players are given various roles that range from Townies, Mafia, and Neutrals. The goal of the game is to help your team win, by lynching all of the players on the opposite team. It's a game of investigation and deception, one that has very quickly become a hit.

Recently, BlankMediaGames (the development team behind the game) held a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the game all new content as well as ports into Steam and mobile apps. The Steam version of the game was released today for $5. However, many players are wondering if the Steam version is worth the money, when the browser game is totally free.

Positives

  • Price: Some players may be surprised to see the price listed as a "positive" point. Some loathe that the game cost anything at all. Truth be told, $5 is lower than I expected it to be. It's also worth pointing out that those who purchase the Steam version also get $5 worth of in-game coins. (In the browser version, coins are acquired by winning games or by microtransaction purchases.) BlankMediaGames is a very small dev team, and I can't blame them for making a profit off the very entertaining game they made.
  • Windows, Mac Compatibility: One of the first concerns players in the ToS community voiced was compatibility with operating systems. Players were reassured that the Steam release is day one compatible with both Windows and Mac.
  • Less Lag: The browser version has a problem with lag and timing out. The Steam version does not have these problems. Character animations and chat run very smoothly.

Negatives

  • Lack of Exclusive Features: This is my major complaint about the Steam release. It really is not all that different from playing the browser version, outside of getting the $5 worth of coins. I could have bought the coins in-browser. Maybe someday there will be Steam-Exclusive features, but as it stands now the game is no different from the free browser version.
  • Achievement Rollover: Players of the browser game already have a load of achievements they've earned playing the game. We had hoped those achievements would roll over into the Steam game. It seems this feature is a little bugged. None of my previous achievements rolled over. This lead to an interesting result of my earning the "Win 5 Games as Framer" achievement, while still having the "Win Your First Game" achievement still locked. After some time, this issue was resolved, though there is sometimes a delay between rollovers if you switch between browser and Steam.
  • Cheating: Players using Skype to cheat in the browser-based game has always been a headache for the devs and honest players alike. In the Steam version, there is still a concern that players will use the built-in Steam browser to cheat by chatting with other players outside of the game. This was noticed by the game's developers, and so some safeguards were put into effect. In-game mods can give out warnings, or ban a player if necessary.
  • Early Leaving: A problem plaguing the browser game is players that leave early by refreshing their browsers. Typically these users do not like the roles they've drawn, so they quit. It leaves the game unbalanced. This can still be a problem with players using Steam, as they can simply play in windowed mode and exit the game.
  • Leaving at All: Maybe I missed it, but it seems the only way to actually exit the game is by hitting ESC and then exiting the window. It's a minor inconvenience, but it does highlight the fact that the Steam port has a lot of issues to overcome.

My Rating:

Verdict

So, is the Steam version of Town of Salem worth the $5? It depends on your perspective.

If you're a casual player just in it for the fun of the game, the browser version is more than satisfactory. It's free, and it has all of the same features we love about the game.

If you're a hardcore fan who wants to support BlankMediaGames and future development of ToS, then you may want to give up the pennies to buy it. Or you could spend $5 on coins in the browser game.

Overall, the day-one release is a bit underwhelming, but it's still a very fun game to play. It has some bugs to work out, as any day one release does. I'm hopeful to see more updates and additions soon (vampires!). I'd definitely suggest new players give the free browser game a try before deciding to buy.

Links:

"Town of Salem" on Steam Poll