‘Among Us’ is great, but it ain’t ‘Fall Guys’

October 16, 2020

As you have probably seen, the indie multiplayer title “Among Us” has been something of a YouTube sensation for the past few weeks, much like “Fall Guys” was about a month ago. Countless streamers and content creators are playing it and making videos on it. After trying it out for myself, I think it’s fun, but not quite as fun as I hoped it would be.  

“Among Us” is the video game version of hidden role board games like “Avalon” but with a sci-fi backdrop. Instead of having rounds and turns, events and conversations transpire in real time. You play as a cute little astronaut on a spaceship and are randomly assigned to be a crewmate or an imposter. In order to win, crewmates either have to complete all the ship’s tasks, which are mini-games such as fixing wires and swiping cards, or determine the identity of the imposters and vote them out of the game. Imposters, on the other hand, have to kill off crewmates until the number of surviving crewmates equals that of the surviving imposters. There can be a maximum of 10 players in one game, with one to three imposters present at the start, depending on your settings.

Spontaneous dialogue between real people is the heart and soul of hidden role games, as there are endless possibilities for variety and strategy, so no two games feel the same. However, in “Among Us,” this type of compelling gameplay is considerably delayed by a relatively uninteresting waiting period. As a crewmate, the gameplay consists mostly of walking around the map, doing assigned tasks and sometimes checking the CCTV until there is an emergency meeting, where a chat room will finally be opened up for discussion. 

Emergency meetings occur when a death is reported by players or when someone presses the emergency meeting button. Prior to the meeting, players cannot talk with others. After a meeting concludes, the game resumes back to this so-called waiting period until another meeting starts. Sometimes this waiting period can be abnormally long because no one reports the bodies, leading to imposters killing off most of the crewmates before a meeting can take place. 

I’m sure others will find the additional segment in between the emergency meetings appealing, but I think it’s a gameplay loop that gets boring quickly, especially as the tasks are either too easy or too annoying to do. A few of them even ask you to wait around for an extended period of time to complete. There is simply too much downtime as a crewmate, which really ruins the flow of the experience. 

Thankfully, that is my only major complaint with the game. Once you do get into the chat room segment, “Among Us” is quite fun. Conversations take place in real time, so you don’t have to wait for your turn to speak. You can talk over others and practically type as much as you want within the time limit. As a crewmate, it’s immensely satisfying to be able to correctly identify imposters by referencing their previous behaviors and getting others to believe in you. Or you can get into a heated argument with someone who falsely accuses you of being the imposter. In any case, “Among Us” at this stage is a great game. 

As an imposter, however, the gameplay at every stage of the game is elevated to a whole new level of intensity and fun. The drab waiting period is precisely when you are the most powerful. You can pretend to solve tasks to blend in, you can sabotage the ship’s facility, forcing crewmates to go and fix them, you can shut the doors to trap your victims, you can sneak into vents to move around quickly and most importantly, you can instantly kill people with your “kill” button. I myself am a patient killer. I mostly avoid using the vents because you can be seen doing so on the CCTV. And I usually stick to the group for a while so others will be more willing to think I’m clean.

Once you inevitably get into the emergency meeting, there are a myriad of strategies to get away with murder. Personally, I like to feign ignorance and be the first one to ask where the body is found. To further avoid suspicion, I’ll defend others’ innocence and demand the accuser for more evidence. Sometimes I’ll even add in a remark or two about how I’m not sure if we’re voting out the right person and suggest that we skip the voting process altogether. Hardly anyone will suspect that I am the imposter and I let out my most villainous laugh whenever I win. It’s a lot of fun being the imposter in “Among Us.” It’s just too bad that most of the time you’ll be playing as a crewmate instead. 

Do I recommend “Among Us?” Yes, absolutely. I had fun playing it and I plan to put in more hours to become a better player. The game is only $5 on Steam and free on mobile too. But due to the inconsistent quality of the gameplay I find myself not as hooked on it as I was when I first played “Fall Guys,” which I think is the superior multiplayer game, though this might not be an entirely fair comparison as they are of different genres. At any rate, I would like to see “Among Us” place more emphasis on its social aspect, perhaps by cutting back other gameplay elements, increasing max player count in a lobby or adding new classes within crewmates and imposters.  

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