Combining elements of survival, deception, and a dash of cannibalism, Dread Hunger is a social deduction game in which a crew of eight embark on a perilous trip into the Arctic during the 19th century. As if the lack of resources and freezing conditions you’ll encounter on these dangerous expeditions don’t already test your survival skills enough, two crew members known as Thralls are out to sabotage the entire operation. Here are five things you need to know about Dread Hunger before hopping into this backstabbing voyage of the damned.
Survival of the Fittest
As an Explorer, you’re tasked with keeping your ship afloat and moving towards the objective while just about everything – from the harsh environment to treacherous teammates – works against you. Starvation, freezing to death, an d getting mauled by a polar bear can all lead to an early demise, and that’s even before a couple of nefarious crewmates are thrown into the mix.
To avoid getting stranded in the icy clutches of the Arctic, collect fuel such as coal and wood to fire up the boiler and stove on the ship. They can be found in chests strewn across the ice, nearby shipwrecks, and in caves. Foraging for food and keeping warm are essential, so venture out during the daylight hours to hunt animals such as seals and wolves, and collect herbs to brew tea. The temperature plummets come nightfall, so the toasty ship’s galley is the safest place to be. This is the perfect time to cook, as well as craft weapons at the workbench, stocking up for the next day. But wander too far from your ship and you’ll need to use spare wood and rocks to build a campfire.
A full day night cycle lasts around nine minutes, with two of those occurring during the extra cold dead of night. It takes around 11 minutes for your hunger meter to fully deplete if you don’t eat, so managing time and resources is key if you’re going to survive.
Hide in Plain Sight
Members of the crew are randomly selected as traitorous Thralls at the start of each game. Staying calm and being patient is key if you’re a Thrall. Your crewmates will be on high alert, so tread carefully while waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to mess with the Explorers and not all of them involve violence. There are many ways to sabotage the expedition, such as accidentally ramming the ship into an iceberg – meaning repairs will need to be made – and wasting time in emergencies when a teammate desperately needs help. Dumping valuable supplies like food and coal into the sea drastically reduces the Explorers’ chances of survival. You can poison their food and even use magic to create a Whiteout to disorient your prey. Alternatively, there’s always the classic approach of isolating an individual and stabbing them in the back.
Dread Hunger’s expeditions rely on Explorers working together over the course of a few days before they can reach their goal, so Thralls don’t need to rush their game plan. Be helpful and trustworthy so that you can sneak around and commit treacherous acts in peace, and avoid suspicion by sharing food and assisting others, but bear in mind you’re there to stop the Explorers succeeding at all costs. With so many tricks up your sleeve, playing as the villain really can be an en-thrall-ing time.
There are many ways to send Explorers to Davy Jones’ locker, but they have a chance to evade a miserable watery grave – but only once! If your fellow Explorers respond to your cries quickly enough, they can revive you by carrying you to the nearest bed. But the first time you die properly, you’re sent to the brig in the belly of the ship. If your teammates have a skeleton key they can free you for a second shot at victory. Just remember that if you die a second time you become a ghost, meaning all you can do now is move around the map and observe the remaining survivors.
Dead players’ corpses remain on the floor, so return to them to grab any items of use. You can even carve them up for meat if food supplies are scarce, but doing so can have its downsides.
Human meat is a hot commodity in the Arctic. Cannibals are hostile enemies often found lurking in caves, who attack the moment they spot you. Thralls can also summon them to slyly pick off innocent sailors. Choose to eat human meat as an Explorer and soon regular animal meat simply won’t satisfy your insatiable appetite, filling your hunger meter less effectively. This forces you to feed more regularly unless you wholeheartedly embrace your twisted new diet. However, this isn’t a choice that should be taken lightly as it’ll eventually result in you depending on human meat for survival.
There’s no downside to consuming human flesh as a Thrall. They’ll happily eat both animals and people, and the latter actually keeps them warmer for slightly longer. However, chowing down on a fellow crewmate might look more than a little suspicious…
Crew Up with Friends
Much like other social deception games, Dread Hunger requires players to take responsibility and ensure everyone plays by the rules. As such we found it best to play with friends first, so everyone takes their roles seriously while you familiarise yourself with the ways to survive and see what the Explorers and Thralls are capable of.
Custom games are a good way to check out different maps and play around with the different settings, and as you learn more about the game you’ll likely stumble upon a variety of hilarious ways to betray and eat your friends.
Those are the basics of survival and betrayal in Dread Hunger. Now it’s your turn to take on the role of a respectable crewmate, or dastardly Thrall.