Deceive Inc. is a colorful spy party full of solo & team treachery

We had a chance to play an early version of Sweet Bandits' Deceive Inc., and its spy games left us craving more intel.

Image via Tripwire Interactive

You’ve played your part well, Agent. You’ve infiltrated the giant complex, gained entry to its inner workings, grabbed the intel, and made for your escape. There’s just one issue. There are up to seven other spies looking to nab that intel whether it’s sitting innocently on the ground or hanging off your bullet-ridden corpse. You have a harrowing escape ahead of you, and if you don’t pull it off, someone else will. That’s the promise of Deceive Inc. and after some personal time with it, I’m ready to play this game with my friends and thoroughly bamboozle them at every given opportunity.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

Source: Tripwire Interactive

Deceive Inc. is competitive game in which you can either fly solo or join up with a squad of two other spies. After being inserted into a map, you are disguised as a local individual. Using holographic technology, you can regularly disguise yourself as various other AI-controlled NPCs wandering around, including waiting staff, security, and scientists. All the while, you wander around the massive map discovering intel and using it to unlock doors that will allow you deeper into the facility. Your main goal is to break into the inner facility, steal a target briefcase, and escape with both the briefcase and your life.

The problem is that there are other spies disguised as NPCs and they’re looking to accomplish the same mission as you. It’s a game of cat and cat and cat and also cat, but everyone is disgused as mice and you never know when they’ll show their claws. Add to this that there are a variety of different spies to play and each brings their own niche to the table. For instance, Squire has a silenced pistol and an ability that scans a room and tells him if there are important items in it, like door-opening keycards. Madame Xiu was my go-to. She had an auto crossbow weapon and could cast a ray that allowed her to jump into the disguise of a different target at range… unless they were a spy! In that case both of you would be exposed and your cover could be blown until you either die or hide again.

Source: Tripwire Interactive

And that brings us to a very important part of the game: Blending in. Every spy has a lethal weapon and you can probe or even go for kills on NPCs you suspect of being spies, but using your lethal weapon blows your cover and your holographic tech will take some time to recover and put you back in disguise. Things like being shot at or sprinting keep you from disguising yourself any quicker. You can play the game loud, guns-a-blazing, or you can play it slow, cool, and bide your time. In the matches I played, there were about an equal amount of brash folk who went around shooting anyone they thought looked suspicious. There were also folks who waited until the briefcase was stolen and tried to pick the perpetrator off at the escape vehicle. It seems there’s going to be a variety of ways to play and win.

Gadgets also assist in this regard. This build of Deceive Inc. was full of gadgets that could be used defensively, offensively, or in utilitarian ways. There were deployable turrets that shot at exposed spies, laser tripwire coils that would expose spies who crossed through them, hack traps that could sabotage intel sources and alert you when other spies used them, and more. Any spy can equip any combo of two gadgets, and each augments your ability to play passive or aggressive alongside your chosen spy’s abilities. Playing well with a spy will reward you too. Each spy has a variety of cosmetics that will allow you to make your favorite stand out among the rabble, so that will be a fun bit of progression to explore.

The wackiest of wet works

Source: Tripwire Interactive

My brief time with Deceive Inc. left me enamored with its possibilities. There have certainly been games that did things similar - Among Us, Prop Hunt, and even Assassin’s Creed’s competitive multiplayer come to mind. However, nothing has put us in a proper James Bond-like setting like this and tasked us with outmaneuvering other spies by cloak, dagger, or a clever combination of both. I really enjoyed the experience I had with Deceive Inc. and I can’t wait to see how Sweet Bandits Studios continues to polish this idea leading up to the game’s release. Be sure to check out our E6 interview for a deeper dive into the game’s specifics with the devs.

This is based on an early PC version of the game supplied by the publishers. Deceive Inc. is currently slated for release on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC sometime in early 2023.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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