Critical Play 1: Among Us

Among Us was created by Innersloth in 2018. Over time, it was released across all major platforms. Originally, the game was rated as PEGI 16. However, as the game became more popular, the rating was revised to PEGI 7. To me, this indicates that the target audience was originally older teens and young adults. However, I believe the audience demographic at this point in time (based on social media popularity) is solidy teenagers.

Each game can host up to 15 players. Each player is assigned a role: crewmate or imposter. There can be up to 3 imposters in one game. While there are different gamemodes, I will be focusing on the classic gamemode In a Classic game, crewmates run around the map and complete tasks to repair their base’s systems (like electrical wiring, nuclear reactors, etc). Meanwhile, the imposters have to find and kill crewmates, leaving behind dead bodies. Imposters can also move around the map more easily via vents (shortcuts). Finally, they can sabotage the base’s systems. All players are also given the option to report dead bodies to start a crew meeting, and once per game, each player can call an emergency meeting. While there are no formal rounds, the dead body reports and emergency meetings makes it feel as though there are. During crew meetings, players discuss who they think are the imposters. Meetings are time-restricted by default, so players have limited time to discuss and vote. If a player receives a majority of votes from their crewmates, then they are sent out of the airlock to become a ghost. When players are voted out, their role is revealed. If the imposters outnumber the crewmates, then the crewmates lose. If all imposters are voted out, then the crewmates win. The objectives are fairly simple, but the resources could be considered the tasks the crewmates have to complete. Particularly since the imposter can sabotage some of the tasks (lights, for example). However, I think the one of the more interesting game dynamics is the imposters. Especially in an online server, imposters know who each other are. However, in my personal observation, one strategy to win as an imposter is to undermine the others to make yourself look innocent. So there is a lot of strategy as to how you interact with your fellow imposters

In my opinion, there are more interesting games in its genre. While the mechanics are fun, they are pretty simple, so the game’s novelty wears off pretty fast. Social deduction games are not a new concept. In fact, Deceit was released in 2017, and it has a similar concept, except it is a first-person shooter. Likewise, Mafia has existed since the 1980s and has evolved to include many interesting roles and mechanics beyond “innocent townfolk” versus “mafia.” However, I think Among Us is just as good of a party game as Deceit or Mafia. In my opinion, its greatest strengths is that it can be played with a variety of groups. There is no overly graphic violence, swearing, or explicit content, so it is suitable for kids and families. However, it is also perfect for friend groups who are looking to play more deviously. Its flexibility is part of its appeal, and I think its why it amassed such a large cult following, especially at the start of COVID. The fact that the mechanics are simple makes it easy for kids to learn, and adults who are looking for a challenge created their own rules and mechanics.
All in all, I enjoyed Among Us! I love social deduction games, and running around solving little puzzles (or stealthily hunting down your friends) is just the cherry on top for me.

For this critical play, I had to play on online servers, so I spent most of my time as a crewmate. It’s fun, but running around the map solving the same puzzles only to be killed because an imposter was camped out in electrical feels… a little unsatisfying. It’s not that the game necessarily failed, but players in online servers tend to play dirty and it takes away from the fun. However, my shining moment of the evening was when I trapped someone in a room with a vent, then used the vent system to get to them and kill them before the doors could re-open, mwahahaha! It was kind of hard, to be honest, so I am proud of myself ­čÖé
Personally, I think it would be interesting if crewmates could defend themselves against the imposter. It’s frustrating to be cornered by the imposter without any form of self-defense. To make this more compelling for the imposter, I would only allow each crewmate to defend themselves once, similar to the emergency meeting.

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