For my very first critical play, I played Among Us with a group of friends. The game was originally developed by Marcus Bromander and Forest Willard. Bromander created the concept for Among Us while Willard acted as a programmer on the project. From what I gathered, the developers of Among Us did not have a certain demographic in mind. Most ratings recommend the minimum age to be an older kid, about 9 years old. The art style also suggests that Among Us is family-friendly. The game can be played on a variety of platforms, including mobile phones, computers, or consoles (Nintendo Switch, PS4, etc.).
Among Us allows 4-15 players, with each player obtaining the role of either crewmate or impostor, which is similar to the civilian and mafia roles in Mafia. Crewmates start each round with a set of of tasks that they must complete as they walk around the map. They win the game when all crew members complete all their tasks or if they successfully vote the imposters off. The imposters appear the same as crewmates but have the ability to kill normal crew members (non-imposters). Imposters also know the identities of other imposters, which is signified by the color of players’ names above their heads (crewmates in white, imposters in red). Crewmates do not see this different coloring. Imposters can also use vents to instantly switch between locations on the map. The imposters win once they reduce the number of total alive players (crewmates + imposters) to double the amount of remaining imposters (1 imposter = 2 players, 2 imposters = 4 players, 3 imposters = 6 players). Each round starts with each player being assigned a role. After the round begins, crewmates are free to roam around the map and complete their tasks. Imposters try to blend in by faking tasks. They also must try to kill crewmates and not get caught. They should also be wary to not use vents in front of crewmates, since that would give them away too. Once a dead body is found, it can be reported by anyone (crewmate or imposter) to start a meeting. It should also be noted players don’t need to necessarily find a dead body to start a meeting. They can also call an emergency meeting by hitting a red button in some location, usually near the center of the map. During the meetings, all players discuss what they did from the last meeting (or the beginning of the round) and try to collectively figure out who murdered the victim(s). At the end of the meeting, the player with the most votes is kicked off. If the person voted off was the last imposter, the game ends and the crewmates win. If the player was a crewmate and the amount of crewmates now equals the amount of imposters, then the imposters win. In any other case, the game just continues.
Among Us is similar to games like Mafia, One Night Werewolf, Secret Hitler, etc. They all share a premise of undercover players trying to blend in with “normal” roles while simultaneously killing off the other players. The most obvious thing that differentiates Among Us from the other games is that it’s played on digital devices. Furthermore, due to the nature of crewmates needing to complete their own individual tasks, players often go off by themselves or into groups to wander around the map. This causes a dynamic where players must choose to trust other players when they recount their actions or when they retell an event that occurred. For me, this makes the game more enjoyable when compared to the games mentioned earlier. This requires that players be more aware of their surroundings as well as other people’s movements and activities.
I found Among Us to be a very enjoyable and high energy game. As someone who doesn’t like to lie or know how to behave as a spy, I very much enjoyed playing as a crewmate. Although, I must admit I am not a very good crewmate player either. I think I naturally just don’t trust people…so I end up accusing everyone of being an imposter. And since there were 11 of us with 2 people being randomly selected as imposters, my friends started to call me a 3rd imposter (since I was unintentionally helping the real imposters lol). Still, it was fun to play the guessing game and argue with my friends over their defenses. And as deeply terrified as I was of being imposter, it was also a surge of rush when I was able to lie and navigate my way to an imposter victory. I ended up using a strategy where I would defend people for being falsely accused so that the other players wouldn’t think I’m trying to vote off everyone. And when it came down to the last three, I essentially said that I was willing to trust another person wholeheartedly so that they thought they had all the power. This made them vote for their fellow crewmate to be kicked off and since we were the last two, I won the game for me and my fellow imposter (who had already been voted off). However, I still prefer to be branded as a bad crewmate player than to deal with the stress of being an imposter.
Among Us definitely works best as a game that you play online. When you play locally or with people in the same room, it’s hard not to react to something on screen even though you should be silent. For instance, a player would sometimes gasp or giggle whenever they were murdered by the imposter. This would unfortunately notify all other crewmates to look for a dead body. Ideally, all players would be unaware that anything even happened since they didn’t witness the event themselves. Thus, if the game is being played locally, I would suggest that the game recommends players to divide themselves up into different rooms if possible. If not, then players should try their best to have a poker face when they are not having meetings (roaming the map and completing tasks).