Among Us: How to betray your friends in nine easy steps
Who doesn’t love being a villain? Considering how Disney turned the concept of villainy into a brand, the rise of the Slasher movie, and also Hannibal Lector, it is not hard to see why. We love to indulge in the dark side of our personalities, we love to see the cool calculated evil of Cersei Lannister, and we clap and cheer as Jason slices up annoying teenagers like rice pudding. So it is only natural that we have games around being the villain. Among Us is such a game, with you either being one of the boring, not teenagers or the villain. Tension is rife, witch hunts are the order of the day, and backs; will get stabbed.
There are three pillars to Among Us. I will look into all three here but they intersect two gameplay loops. Those being for the Crewmates and the Imposters. The former is seeking to uncover the Imposter and the latter’s goal is to kill the Crewmates before that happens. A simple but well designed experienced that is quite replayable.
The build-up to the murder
For the crewmates, your tasks are pretty simple and non-challenging. You wonder the spaceship completing things like flushing leaves out of the cooling pipes or performing a medical scan. As I said, very simple tasks because they are not the main focus. They are something to do while watching your friends. They are a means of setting up an alibi, as the player has to remember where they were and what they were doing. Not to mention, a means of organically isolating yourself from the group, as tasks only require one person, and everyone has their own set of unique tasks.
The Imposters (max of three) have to pretend to complete tasks (at least those that do not have a visual indicator) while picking off isolated targets and sabotaging various parts of the environment (causing oxygen to deplete within a given time limit etc). You cannot behave suspiciously (such as standing still for long periods) because everyone watching everyone else. Among Us challenges the player’s observation skills. Despite the simple tasks for the Crewmates, they are an obstacle, a moment of vulnerability that creates tension and forces you to be wary of everything.
So I hear someone has been murdered! For the Imposter/s this is great news. For the rest, however... good luck. In this segment, there is not so much gameplay as there are arguments. The player has to prove their alibi while figuring out the flaws or suspicious activity of the rest of the group. The player’s social and observation skills are put to work in this particular section. Memory is too required as you cannot check your map while witch-hunting debating. This prevents cheating and easy victories. Not to mention manipulation on behalf of the imposter, they can lie and twist the information of movement to their advantage.
I stab you
As the Imposter, you have to kill all the other players to win the game. This has to be done without the players suspecting you. So the Imposter has to blend into the background and perform tasks without a visual indicator. You have to be aware of cameras and people’s movements. The main challenge of the Imposter (and gameplay loop) is social stealth. The Imposter sections require you to be socially deceptive through mimicry, to stealth through conversations and crowds while seeking for vulnerabilities, isolated targets, and strategic sabotaging.
Sabotaging reactors or lights offer different advantages to Imposters. Cutting the lights will help make the murder easier and escapes more efficient. But starting a reactor meltdown can cause an easy victory, should the Crewmates fail to cooperate. It would all depend on the Imposter to figure out how far everyone is from the reactor and where people are. They need their observation skills just as much as the Crewmates.
Art style and graphics:
Among Us’s colorful and cartoony art style is memorable and distinct. There is a wonderful air of silliness to the game that makes it playable and endearing. The graphics are very undemanding, making the game perfect for anyone's PC. There is little to complain about here. Among Us looks good on a thin budget.
There are persistent connection problems when trying to join public and private matches. There have been reports (from my friends) of black and broken screens. However, I haven't encountered these but please keep this in mind.
Among Us is an insanely fun but flawed little game that is perfect for LAN parties and late-night online gatherings. I would personally recommend with friends as games with random people tend to devolve into witch hunts.
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