From relative obscurity to becoming one of the many hyped up reveals during The Game Awards, Among Us has come a very long way in a very short space of time. Released in 2018, its big break came in August of this year as numerous streamers latched onto the game’s innate watchability, and before developer InnerSloth knew it, their servers were falling over as people rushed to group up with their friends and then stab each other in the back.
Available for Android, iOS and Windows for the last two years, the game has now made the jump across to Nintendo Switch. Could it soon be coming to PlayStation and Xbox as well?
Well, we’ll get to that, but first: what is Among Us?
Essentially, the game is based on the social deduction game Werewolf, where you have a group of players, one of whom is seeking to covertly kill the rest while avoiding suspicion. Instead of having everyone sat round in a circle, Among Us gives all of the players tasks to complete, while the imposter(s) have to go around pretending to perform tasks and sneaking in a little murder every now and then.
It all comes to a head when a body is discovered or if someone calls a meeting to reveal some suspicious behaviour. Players debate, they interrogate, they lie, obstruct and can then vote to kick someone out or wait, if they haven’t narrowed down a suspect just yet. It’s a great video game adaptation, playing off social interactions exceptionally well, and a deserved (belated) success for InnerSloth.
Originally created for smartphone, the jump to Nintendo Switch is almost effortless. Roaming the map is as intuitive as it’s ever been, and you have both button and touch screen support for the little task mini-games that pop up.
That said, it also feels quite rough in ways that will be both familiar to players on other platforms and new to the Switch version. The main menu, for example, includes buttons and links that will take you to Facebook or Twitter… or they would if the Switch had a web browser and didn’t just flat out crash….
The Nintendo Switch release also highlights one of the continued weaknesses of the game for me: the lack of built in communication tools. While much of the game plays out in relative silence, the meetings are hives of back and forth interrogation if you play in person or use something like Discord to have a group voice chat. In-game, all you have is text chat, which can be fine, but basically just boils down to players stating a colour in the interest of time. That depends on the group you’re playing with, obviously, and the game is by far best played with friends with voice, as opposed to text chat with a group of strangers.
The Switch fits in with the current workarounds quite neatly, to be honest. To put it in another, slightly more brutal way, the frankly dumb lack of a built in microphone on the Switch and the nigh on useless mobile app as a substitute for system-level voice chat and parties all mean people would be resorting to Discord and other set ups anyway.
You do still have text chat, but the pop-up keyboard on Switch covers the game entirely, meaning you cannot see the chat, and I’ve always found touchscreen text input on Switch oddly detached compared to smartphones and tablets.
If the game is to come to PlayStation or Xbox any time soon, it would need a rethink of the communications options. Voice chat would really need to be integrated – though PSN and Xbox Live both have robust party systems, in-game chat could automate the muting and unmuting for meetings – and a system of quick communications to relay information without a keyboard. It’s sure to be a big task, and why the ports to other consoles have only ever been in consideration.
Given how much buzz there is surrounding Among Us, it’s no surprise that InnerSloth have sought to bring it to console, and Nintendo Switch is by far and away the most logical first platform for them to tackle. That said, they’ve clearly got their work cut out for them to make it truly feel like a first class citizen on the platform, ironing out the kinks and figuring out how best to translate the game to PlayStation and Xbox.