Game Review: Among Us

Among Us Artwork

Maybe the Imposters were the friends we made along the way. I promised myself I’d include that line in here somewhere and figured why shoot for organic content when nonsense works just as well. 

Anyway, today I’ll be reviewing Among Us, a game originally released in mid 2018, which did not receive the attention it oh so clearly deserved initially, however now, in 2020, thanks to a combination of several big name Let’s Players and Streamers such as Jacksepticeye, CrankGameplays, Markiplier and Game Grumps playing the game on their channels and people discovering much like myself that it is super fun to play especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, because it’s an ideal party game, especially for those who are socially isolating it has been gaining lots of positive attention. 

It’s undeniable how big the game has gotten, especially in the past two/three months, god even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (more commonly known just as AOC) the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district (and a member of the Democratic Party) played the game. She and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district (and a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party) played the game on Twitch on October 20th 2020 alongside established Streamers such as Pokimane, Mxmtoon, Hasan Piker, Disguised Toast, Jacksepticeye, and DrLupo. The broadcast itself being one of the top 20 largest streams ever, and you can check out the video here

Moving on from the massive online presence the game currently has, let’s talk about the game itself, Among Us was released by Innersloth, the creators of Dig 2 China and The Henry Stickmin collection and is a social deduction/hidden role game in a similar vein as One Night Ultimate Werewolf or Secret Hitler

The game is fun on both sides of the equation, it allows for players, of up to 10 people, to face off against literal Imposters in their midst. The Imposters can kill Crewmate, sabotage key equipment such as overloading the reactor or shutting off the oxygen supply and, in the case of multiple Imposters, can cooperate and vouch for each other during the discussions and votes. Meanwhile the Crewmates need to stay alive, vote out the Imposters and do a variety of tasks to keep things running. 

This game has a lot of replay value, and currently there are three maps, each with their own pros and cons, The Skeld for example is probably the default for most players, and at least for me gives off major Ridley Scott Alien vibes. It’s also the most self contained map, which makes for familiarity and makes things both easier and more difficult for the players on both sides. I also quite like Polus because it’s a much bigger map and makes things more interesting and chaotic because as I said The Skeld tends to be the default, so a lot of the new players coming to the game haven’t played on any other map and as such when they are dropped down on Polus it is and I hope you’ll pardon the pun…alien to lots of people which makes it much more challenging. 

I like how you can just jump right into games with players from all over, you can make friends in moments and make enemies just as quickly. You learn to doubt everyone, and very occasionally you get a total innocent who’s never played a game before and the entire team walks them through it, a good example would be the Dad of Two story which has been circulating on Reddit and Instagram the past few weeks.

The game isn’t perfect though, because despite being unranked (so why bother cheating?) and just meant to be for fun there’s already hackers, me and Tori B Bearly had an unfortunate incident a few days ago in which someone hacked the chat and had other players make very crude and offensive remarks, seemingly for no other reason than to mess with people. The chat itself also feels clunky, so we’ve actually bought the game on Steam and playing it on the PC somewhat mitigates the issue, but frankly on mobile, and especially under a time limit the chat isn’t anywhere near as fluid or responsive as I would like it to be. Often in the time you’ve taken to type out anything more complicated than ‘where’ or ‘Pink is Sus’ the conversation has already happened or you nearly miss the chance to vote because you’re getting caught up. I think therefore a voice chat function or a preset text option might help the game. But honestly it’s a relatively small issue and as for voice chat, a lot of players, my group included have just been using Discord while playing. 

Another issue is, I don’t think ghosts should have to be present for the vote, since they cannot interact with living crew members or actually vote, It just feels like time you are stuck unable to do anything, and other than in the first few seconds of starting a match where players drop out of games because they aren’t the Imposter, it’s probably where you lose the most players during matches.

Also, while I like that you can change your name whenever you like, although obviously within the limits of 10 characters, I wish your identity and thus any bans you’ve had stick with you so that you don’t keep interacting with the same nuisance players. 

Lastly, regarding complaints, and this isn’t something the developers can fix unless they can also edit human behaviour, but perhaps my only real gripe with the game is the attitudes of players, a lot of people are literally just finding the game, and most are just trying to have fun, but you still find people impatient with new players who are unclear on the rules or functions of the game or even the shorthand that’s quickly developed in chat, and start cursing out or insulting players. Now I am not naive, nor am I new to gaming culture in general, but it’s just disappointing to see people be so aggressive about a game which has literally no ranking structure or rewards, where the only intention is to have fun, and where right now, there’s an enormous influx of new players, and where veterans of the game, if there are any could instead of calling people names for learning how to play, could perhaps get a sense of perspective and just enjoy themselves, maybe even help other players along the way. 

Honestly though despite those issues I’ve enjoyed my experience so far, I love how simple the core mechanics are, and yet it manages to remain interesting and engaging throughout. Because you can be good or bad, Crewmate or Imposter, you can be chaotic or helpful. It allows for all types of players and the game itself doesn’t penalise any specific types of gameplay. Although you’ll often have to explain yourself to the other players, and if they don’t like your answers you’ll most likely be blasted out into space. It’s also really easy to get into, within moments of first playing you can become acclimated to the gameplay, and within a few rounds you are an old pro at it and yet for me, after I’d guess 60 or 70 matches it’s still fresh and fun and I’ve found myself jumping on for a game in the morning or playing it rather than scrolling Facebook or watching something on YouTube. Overall It’s just a fun, addictive game that’s incredibly engaging and has a lot of potential for expansion and development. 

Just before I finish up though I wanted to talk about something else that I have really been enjoying in relation to the game, which has been the fan-made content by various creators such as the music, examples of which you can check out here, here and here or awesome Artwork, and you can see examples of those here, here and here, there’s even been fanfiction popping up as well, and you can see some examples of that here, here and here. So it’s clear that while 2020 has not been great for all, it’s allowed Among Us to shine like the wonderful gem it is, and off the back of it, people are creating and having fun with it. 

Anyway with that in mind I can easily give Among Us a 4/5 and strongly suggest you check it out if you haven’t already. You can purchase the game for £3.99 over on Steam, or download it on your Android or iOS device.

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