An interesting thing I like noticing about video game culture is that every few months there seems to be a new, trendy, light-hearted game that rises to the top of the pile and enjoys a nice period of uninterrupted fun among casual and hard-core gamers alike. They don’t always cancel each other out and many of them can stay successful at the same time, but they do seem to be handing off the spotlight to the next one at a fairly regular interval of the few months or so. It’s a trend that I like seeing. Whether Minecraft, Fortnite, Overwatch, or Fall Guys are your cup of tea or not, they all seem to, at least for a time, embody what gaming is all about; bringing people together and having some ridiculous fun for a while.
It seems that the game, Among Us, is the newest addition to this little club of popular hit games. But why is that? What does Among Us do that has made it garnered so much interest across so many different types of gamers all at the same time? Among Us started out as a fairly rudimentary game that could only be found on mobile platforms and didn’t even have online multiplayer at first. Thanks to a small but still very dedicated and enthusiastic community, it has come a long way since then. But, as is the case with so many classics the core ideas of the game we’re simple.
Just complete a series of tasks while rooting out the imposters, or of course, if you are an imposter wipe out everyone else who isn’t one without getting caught. This is a core mechanic that has surfaced in many different games in many different ways over a very long time. Even Minecraft has a similar mode that remains fairly well populated to this day. Where Among Us gets it right though is its laser focus on that very one idea instead of a bunch of ideas that just happened to include it. It also makes it a little more fun and raises the stakes by stopping people from communicating during the core moments of the gameplay. This adds plenty of tension and room for speculation as players try to see who is being the most suspicious.
Eventually all of the speculation culminates into a vote, and as you might imagine whoever gets the most votes it’s shot out of the airlock and removed from the game. Players can also decline to vote if they don’t feel confident enough about picking one person or another, and this can lead to some interesting results that can be just as baffling as they are hilarious once everyone realizes how right or wrong they were. Being one of the imposters is perhaps the most fun part of the game and a big reason why it’s such a hit right now. Being an imposter grants you a series of abilities that are not available to the other players like being able to travel through vents, cut off oxygen, or turn out the lights to wreak havoc on the other players in hopes of isolating them, which is the absolute goal.
Causing problems on the spaceship is what triggers the other players to go fix things, hence causing them to potentially separate and open themselves up to being eliminated by the imposters. Once a player is isolated and away from the group the imposter can kill them and begin their reign of terror on the crew. This of course opens the imposter up to being discovered, though. So it takes a skilled player to get away with this several times in a row and win the game. Given that there are so many opportunities for error on the part of the imposter, The more it happens the more likely it is that somebody will see something fishy put the pieces together and it’ll be all over for them. Once you are caught doing any of the aforementioned fishy things the jig will be up.
I think this is a big reason why the game is popular. It forces people to analyze what’s going on around them, keep an eye on other players, look for patterns and fishy behavior and make a call as to whether or not someone is actually up to no good or if it’s just a mistake on the part of the Observer. Unless somebody is truly caught red-handed you can never really know for sure, and that sense of doubt can keep things lively over and over again. Completing the tasks is the other side of the gameplay hemisphere and it also has its own bag of tricks that keeps things interesting. Fixing broken wires, repairing various pieces of equipment, and breaking up asteroids to protect the ship’s integrity are all surprisingly fun on their own.
Fun little things like this injected into any game can add a little bit of depth and a little bit of fun where it might not have been expected otherwise. Making sure that being a regular crew member is just as fun and rewarding and motivating as being an imposter is an important part of the game and that’s another big part of why it’s so successful right now.
Unlike a lot of other two sided multiplayer experiences that are out there these days where people are largely just waiting for their turn to be the fun thing, Among Us does a good job of making sure all the roles are fun to do and have their own sense of tension and reward for doing them well. so it’s not just about getting through the level as the character you’re not totally thrilled with so you can get to do the fun thing it’s actually about having fun no matter what roll you’re in and what your goals are. It’s a balanced, well-planned experience.
Among Us is a well-made game that probably still would have been plenty successful had the events of the world not transpired in the way that they did. It lends itself well to the streaming community, it practically generates its own memes, and most importantly it’s just a fun easy to get into experience but anybody can play and appreciate it.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.
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