In his first-ever article, Morgan Seed reviews something he hates as part of his prolonged public demise.
As is the strange trend with popular indie titles, Among Us was originally a throwaway product by the game studio Innersloth in 2018, getting little to no attention at first. I’d only just played it in passing in August before waking up one day to see it plastered all over my Instagram feed, that little red man popping up in so many places on the screen that I momentarily wondered whether my phone had somehow contracted a venereal infection.
The gameplay rules are simple to follow, though context exists in some nebulous vacuum outside the badly-crafted spaceship that you and your marshmallow-cum-Despicable-Me-minion-crossover friends spend your time running back and forth in. Essentially, the majority of players have to fix twenty unexplained structural disasters that seem to have just popped up in the space of that morning alone, presumably because every engineer back at NASA had downed a litre of temazepam during the critical testing phase. As this happens, one or two of the crewmates, i.e., the impostors, aim to achieve only the simple pleasures in life, such as using their comrades as makeshift knife blocks and generally bringing down the vibe of the place.
The segment that Among Us is most known for is when the first unlucky bastard experiences an impromptu blade-massage, and the body is reported. All semblance of courtesy and friendship is lost as fast as you can tell the chat which room you were in and how it somehow clears you of all suspicion. Surprisingly enough, there are no microphone channels in the servers – the only evidence I have yet discovered that supports the existence of a benevolent God – and all communication is text-based. I’ve managed to condense it to a two-point process: people send one-word messages shouting out their location (a pointless process in reality, but we’ll get to that in a bit), and then there’s a vote to see who’s going to be blamed for the overzealous acupuncture business and tossed out of the airlock. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
The fun you have always depends on what kinds of players you get lumped with; some will throw you out of the airlock just because you’re the colour pink and their families were brutally slaughtered by a cotton-candy machine when they were young or something, whilst others will hear you out as you desperately try to explain that you saw the orange one standing directly over the body, knife still dripping blood. And then throw you out of the airlock.
But just in case I was coming dangerously close to making this game sound fun, here’s the rub, chief: it gets old fast. Unless you’re the impostor, which in ten hours of playtime I’ve managed to achieve exactly six times, the real goal is to stand around flipping switches until someone who you once thought was your friend comes up behind you and snaps your neck. Even the impostor has some ridiculously insane drawbacks: you’ve got a twenty-second cool down between each kill because apparently, the psychopath lifestyle isn’t complete without a tea break between each frenzied stabbing, so you can usually kill maybe two people max before a corpse is found and the fingers of blame start being pointed. By the end of things, I was just resorting to running around in headless-chicken-mode, butchering whoever I came across as fast as possible, strategy be damned. And I’m fairly certain it was my best game.
But here I go raving again, wanting to win, like some sort of sportsperson or similar freak. Among Us clearly aims more for the “casual multiplayer” side of things, the idea of playing it with drunk friends rather than an e-league team. Yes, I’m sure it substitutes as something fun to gather your mates around when the TV’s on the fritz, or there’s no dead fox nearby to poke with a stick, but there’s no real variety to it. I suppose it’s a good thing that a small developer is getting credit in a world dominated entirely by multi-million corporations and loot boxes, but let’s be real, there’s only one route it’ll be taking if the popularity lasts: one of the said corporations buying it and financially milking it until its lungs plop out.
If you want to see more stuff like this / have no sense of taste whatsoever, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, “Morgoo.” That’s right, I’m shamelessly self-promoting on a university website.