Among Us — the hot new game everyone is playing right now — is actually not a “new” game at all. The game was released in the latter half of 2018 by developing team InnerSloth but criminally received little attention upon its conception. Not until recently did the Thing-esque game receive a surge of player activity thanks to popular Twitch streamers and YouTubers, resulting in the game’s mass discovery that otherwise would have gone regretfully overlooked.
InnerSloth’s Among Us is a game where the world’s worst detectives and most cunning liars are given their chance to shine. It is a game that seems to work based on concept alone. It reminds me of another brilliant, albeit much more complicated game by the name of Town of Salem. In both games, communication is essentially mandatory in completing your goal of cooperatively ruling out the culprits that blend in with the innocents.
At the center of fun lies this idea of good communication between your unknown teammates. At its best (this depends largely on the who the players are), the discussion phases are like a game of psychological warfare where everyone is trying their absolute hardest to wring out details to either prove their innocence or to trick others. At its worst, you could get stuck with presumptuous and close-minded people who base their suspicions off of one shred of flimsy evidence, only to vote out an innocent soul. Either way, every one of these phases is supported by a fair amount of time for discussion and a fair voting system.
But of course, this core concept of prompted discussion couldn’t work on its own without the game’s creative touches. The most difficult part of making these “rule-out-the-impostors” games is creating a fair balance between both parties, in which InnerSloth did a pretty good job of when considering the default settings (which can be tweaked).
The impostors are given a decent cooldown which is a smart choice because it first forces them to blend in with the innocent crewmates. It also forces them to use their chance to kill wisely, thus making them unable to go on slaughtering sprees which would indeed make them overpowered. Impostors are also given the option to hop in vents to either hide, or travel from room to room. One last function impostors are given is the ability to sabotage machinery from anywhere on the map which can lead to a victory in some cases. The greatest thing about being the impostor is attempting to persuade through your words and actions — like reporting the dead body of your own murder — in order to convince the others that you are also one of them, and it is undoubtedly the most fun part about Among Us.
As for receiving the role of crewmate, you are prompted with simple tasks that sometimes take no more than the push of a button to complete. They keep crewmates on their toes and if every crewmate can complete all their tasks, they win by default. The devs even implemented the clever choice of letting those who were killed finish their tasks out so they still have a chance to earn the victory.
The only griping aspect about the crewmate role is that on top of the fact it can sometimes come off as repetitively tiring (especially when you go on a streak of getting the role), it is very difficult to win from performing tasks because impatient players will either leave games or forget to complete them when dead. I will agree that it’s not always fun to be a crewmate with required tasks, so perhaps there could have been some creative workaround like instead of assigning each crewmate with a set of unique tasks, there could be a long list of tasks shared by every member, even the impostors (so they could further blend in). This issue isn’t a huge deal because crewmates are usually able to win by voting out impostors anyway, but it would be nice for there to be a solid alternative.
One last problem with the game would have to be two of its three maps. The first map has a perfect and economical design. It contains a center meeting hub that branches off in three directions which each branch off into individual rooms and corridors. Every room, hallway, and task location is memorable, and it is no surprise it has become the representative map for the game. However, this is unfortunately not the case for the other two maps. The second map is way too messy and contains too many oddly located doors and rooms that annoy more than anything. The other is frankly too linear. Both are nowhere near as memorable as the first map — which truthfully provides the entire game all it really needs, although it would indeed be pleasant to have more likable maps.
Those are all of my thoughts on the viral Among Us. Since the game has finally received some deserved spotlight, it has encouraged InnerSloth to revisit and improve the game (it was originally conceived that they were going to make a sequel — I’m personally fine with either choice). On a side note, props to the art department for making such lovable (dare I say, iconic?) character designs and animations.