Among Us Review: Paranoid Murder Fun for the Whole Family

The sleeper hit of 2020, Among Us, hits the Nintendo Switch for even more party fun.

Among Us exploded onto the scene and into pop culture over the last eight months, but it certainly didn’t appear from nowhere. Originally released in 2018, this clever multiplayer gem deserves all the popularity and kudos it’s finally receiving.

That upward rise should get a boost thanks to Nintendo's fanfare about the Switch release and other console versions coming soon after.

It’s this translation to the Switch that we’re largely focused on here. If you’ve missed the boat entirely, Among Us is a plucky indie effort that takes the classic themes of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and John Carpenter’s The Thing and mashes them into an addictive game with surprisingly adorable 2D visuals.

Among Us Review: Paranoid Murder Fun for the Whole Family

The premise here is simple: 4-10 people are shoved onto one of three sci-fi maps with maintenance jobs to do, but the rub is some of them aren’t human. Instead, part of that crew is an Imposter — a shapeshifting alien hungry for murder and destruction.

In proper bureaucratic style, when a dead body is found, an emergency meeting is called and players can chat it out and vote on which of their fellow crewmates they think is the alien. There’s a lot of subterfuge and psychology at work in these bits, as the humans try to work out who was where, what were they doing, and who might be lying.

The intent is whoever gets the most votes gets booted out into the void. The imposter players, of course, are just trying to mislead — and outright lie — to not get voted off, continuing their murderous subterfuge. 

Imposters can win the match by either killing the rest of the crew or causing a self-destruct sequence, while humans win by either killing the imposters or preventing said self-destruction by completing all their assigned tasks.

Among Us is a brilliant game in that it keeps everything simple. The tasks are mini-games meant to be easy to grasp and complete on a touchscreen, with a mouse and keyboard, or a control pad. The action buttons are entirely contextual. If you’re near something interactive, you just follow the prompt.

Among Us isn’t an action game. Even murder (generally done in private corners with, you hope, no prying eyes) is just a button press when the prompt shows up. That focus on making a game that works across any potential platform serves Among Us well, because players on all those platforms can actually play together. This includes the Switch version, so there’s no shortage of matches online at any given time.

The core of Among Us, no matter the platform, is excellent. It’s just a fun game, full of clever twists, creative maps, and accessible gameplay. Bringing it over to a console, however, highlights certain shortcomings that were easier to overlook on mobile and PC. A problem exclusive to the Switch (but probably very temporary) is the lack of any in-game purchases, so you can't buy any of the pets and extras you might see on players from other platforms. 

This whole microtransaction thing needs an overhaul in that each platform —be it Steam, the App Store, Google Play, etc. — is its own island. Since there’s no central account associated with the game (like where Minecraft uses an Xbox account to let all your DLC purchases follow you), any purchases on, for example, iOS won’t transfer to Switch, Android, or PC (and vice versa). 

Specific to the Switch (and certain to apply to other console versions), there's simply going to be issues associated with any game where text chatting is an important element. Playing the Switch version as a portable, it works exactly the same as any mobile. You either mind touch typing on the screen or you don't, but it's workable.

Doing the same with a control pad is another story, even with the usual bits of shorthand and horrible diction that goes hand in hand with this type of thing. There's been no attempt to streamline the process or aid players in quickly relaying pertinent information (about, say, locations and colors). This means console players will likely feel compelled to curtail any lengthy sort of chit chat, which isn't ideal.

Among Us Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Incredibly clever concept merged with fun, accessible gameplay
  • Adorable graphics really offset the horror
  • Cross-platform multiplayer means there's no shortage of matches to play

Cons

  • Text chatting during a timed meeting with a control pad feels awful
  • No unified account means purchases from one platform don't track to another
  • No microtransactions on the Switch yet, so you can only look sadly upon other player's pets and cool customizations and sigh (for now)

Playing Among Us on a variety of platforms is proving the game, while unabashedly excellent, might not be able to grow as rapidly as its popularity has. Flaws aside, Among Us is a clever game that deserves its time in the spotlight. It works a surprisingly complex concept into a simple and accessible package where matches are quick, fun, usually hilarious, and sometimes even intense.

[Note: The copy of Among Us used for this review was purchased by the reviewer.]

Our Rating
8
The sleeper hit of 2020, Among Us, hits the Nintendo Switch for even more party fun.
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

Contributor

Jason D'Aprile has been writing about games and technology for a very long time. His bylines have appeared on and in countless sites and magazines over the years, including Paste Magazine, Playboy, G4TV, Indie Game Website, UploadVR, Techhive, Lifewire, the Brick Moon Fiction podcast, United Front Gaming, and others he's mostly forgotten about. Jason lives in a house in the woods and does not twit.

Published May. 12th 2021

New Cache - article_comments_article_67895
Related
More Among Us Content