Critical Play – Among Us

For this first critical play, I played the game Among Us which was created by InnerSloth LLC with the main designer being Marcus Bromander. I think that Among Us has a target audience that ranges from 8 years old to late 20s or maybe early 30s. It seems that beyond that age range, the game may lose a bit of its appeal. From some of the features as well as the size and the UI, it feels like it was made for those who are more familiar with technology and have a certain level of comfort and intuition when it comes to using controls. Additionally, it seems to largely be a mobile game which serves as further evidence of a younger target demographic.

Among Us is made for a range between 4-15 people , but it seemed like the game would be more fun the bigger the group. At the start of the game, each person is assigned a role of either being a crewmate or the imposter. The ship acts as the boundary in this game. Crewmates have the objective to go around “the ship” and complete assigned tasks while the imposter’s objective is to go around trying to covertly kill crewmates while appearing to be completing tasks so as not to draw any suspicion. There are various tasks that you can visualize via the map. The game has three outcomes and ends when: 1) all the crewmates have completed all of their tasks before the imposter is able to kill the majority, 2) the imposter kills the majority, or 3) the crewmates discover who the imposter is and vote them out. The imposter’s main actions are killing and sabotaging (which causes chaos and forces crewmates to leave their assigned tasks and attend to “fixing” whatever the imposter sabotages. The crewmates’ main actions that are allowed are moving to and completing various tasks. All players are able to call emergency meetings, report dead bodies, message the game-wide chat during meetings to communicate, and vote during a voting round based on their suspicions as to who the imposter is.

This game reminded me of a digital version of Mafia or Werewolf as it is a guessing game. The aesthetics are different in all three of these games with one being based on the Mafia, one being more fantasy realm based on werewolves and magical creatures, and Among Us being based on a story of a ship full of crewmates in outer space. There are similar game mechanics in all three though, especially with the existence of different “groups”, namely a distinction between “good guys” and “bad guys”. There is also the element of deception and social deduction and having to talk and work together to figure out roles and when/how to communicate pieces of information.

Overall, I thought this game was really fun! It was a cool hybrid of digital elements and in-person interaction. I like games where you have to try and deduce who is who and who you can trust. It’s an interesting dynamic when most of you are on the same team with a sole person (or maybe 2 depending on settings of the game it looks like) who is the “bad guy” but you have no idea who to trust. I like using clues from the game as well as what people say to justify themselves or accuse others during emergency meetings to try and deduce who is good and who is bad – some of my friends are terrible liars and others are so good, and I could just never tell when they were the imposter.

An epic fail occurred during one of the rounds when my friend killed someone right in front of me – it was then obvious who the imposter was, so that game ended quickly. I think a moment of great success or at least an interesting tactic that I observed worked quite well was “self-reporting” when the imposter reports the dead body of the person they just killed to try and take any suspicion off of them.

I think that one thing I might change is the chat feature. I was able to play in person with friends and discuss live, but I think people who play online with a random group would not like having to text/message everything during meetings. It would be nice to add a voice feature so that people could speak. Of course, this comes with privacy concerns as mics would have to be accessed as well as concerns about people being rude or talking over each other. I think piloting this feature would be cool, though, as good conversation during the meetings is important so as to avoid random voting of people to be “kicked off the ship”.

Overall Among Us was super fun, and I would definitely play again sometime!

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