The cultural phenomenon social deduction game Among Us has finally arrived on consoles. The Finger Guns review of the PS5 version.
Among Us might have taken a few years to explode into the video game zeitgeist – but explode it did. The wildly successful social deduction game has been going from strength to strength over the past 2 years, releasing new maps, new tasks and arriving on new platforms. The latest launch finds the crewmates and imposters landing on consoles, namely Xbox and PlayStation, the latter of which is the subject of this review.
If you’ve not heard of Among Us before a) I’m going to assume you’ve been in a coma for the past few years, so congratulations on waking up! And b) this game is an inventive take on the social deduction game you may know as Mafia or Werewolf. In the original off-the-table party game, an informed minority attempt to game and kill their way to victory by manipulating an uninformed majority, whom have the ability to vote out those they suspect of being part of the minority.
In Among Us, the setup is similar. Played with a group of 4 to 15 people from a top down perspective, players are broken up into 2 groups. The majority of players are labelled as “crewmates”. Their aim is to complete all of the maintenance jobs around their sci-fi location. Do so, while remaining the majority, and the crewmates win the game. The minority player group are called “imposters”. On the surface, they’re completely identical to the crewmates but their aim is entirely different. They have to undermine the work of the crew by killing them, sabotaging the systems or otherwise making themselves the majority.
Thus starts a strategic ballet of deception, sneakiness and downright dastardly deeds. As a crewmate, you’ll be navigating the area in order to complete mini-games which act as your jobs. All the while you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for anyone acting suspicious, like doing subtle things like using vents to get around a level quickly or less subtle actions like killing people. As an imposter, you’ll be trying to blend into the crowd, pretending to do jobs while also attempting to get crewmates alone for long enough to kill them off and not get immediately caught.
The crewmates aren’t entirely defenceless. With a press of an in-game button, or when a dead body has been discovered, an emergency meeting is called. This convenes every living player in the game into one room where a discussion can be held. Any suspicious behaviours can be called out and fingers can be pointed at those that people suspect (or downright know) are imposters. A vote is then held. Every living player gets to vote for 1 other player (or skip the vote, if they’re not sure who to vote for) that they think are the imposters. The person who gets the most votes is then ejected from the game. If the crewmates manage to eject all of the imposters before they’re all killed, they can win the game.
Of course, the imposters are also in on this conversation. During this phase of play, it’s their job to keep their head down to avoid drawing attention to themselves while also casting dispersions on crewmates. If a crewmate receives the most votes, they’ll be ejected in the same way an imposter would. It’s possible for the imposters to win a game by convincing everyone else to vote out crewmates until they’re no longer the majority player type.
There’s a wealth of strategic depth to this game with multiple routes to victory no matter which team you’re put in. An evolution of Mafia/Werewolf and a gamification of the less interactive aspects of the popular social deduction game, it’s constantly engaging. With friends and an open vocal channel to use during meetings, you can have an a brilliant time as you attempt to be the wolf among the sheep as an imposter or attempt to root out the bad apples as a crewmate. Even with strangers using nothing but the built in text chat and responses, mapped to a series of wheels which let you quickly say what you want to say, this game is a blast.
If you’re truly new to Among Us, there is a bit of a learning curve. There’s not a massive amount of explanation about the moment to moment game play within the game. That said, the HUD and constant presence of your goals on screen go a long way to explain what you should be doing. The mini-games are all self-explanatory and even the more complex ones are designed in a way so they’re easy to intuit.
This is helped by an art style that carries quite a lot of character but is also simplistic and easy to distinguish. The designers of Among Us have obviously made great efforts to make sure that this game is as accessible as possible, even to those that don’t regularly play games. It all pays off in a gloriously charming, cartoony but not outlandish look that’s easy to appreciate.
Where you might find yourself out of depth initially is within the tactical meta of Among Us. During emergency meetings, you might see phrases like “self-report” and “vent kill” which, at first, won’t make a whole lot of sense to you. There’s a whole lexicon that has developed for this game, as people use short hand phrases to express actions while saving time on having to write it all out. Over time though, as you play and gain experience as both crewmate and imposter, this all becomes just part of the game. Of course, if you’re playing with friends and a voice chat, this isn’t an issue.
How does the PlayStation 5 version of Among Us stack up against other versions? Well, it’s an interesting trade off here. On tablets and mobile phones, probably the most popular platforms for this game, Among Us can be a bit choppy at times. None of that appears here. This is the smoothest Among Us experience I’ve had since I first picked up the game a year and a half ago.
Where this game does differ a little to some other versions is during mini-games. Most of the mini-game jobs in this game are purpose built for touch screens or the use of a mouse. In the PS5 version, you obviously don’t have that option. Instead, those mini-games that require you to move objects quickly and to specific places include a pointer which is controlled using the thumb sticks. Cleaning the leaves out of a vent, for example, includes a large green reticule which is controlled by the left thumb stick which, when moved over leaves, can shoot them around with a flick of the right thumb stick. It’s an inventive solution that means those jobs are still within the game – but it is still much slower than a touch screen or a mouse. This does mean that you have a minuscule disadvantage when playing on PS5 as you’ll be performing jobs for just a second or two longer, your screen obscured by the mechanics of it, than those on tablet or PC via cross platform play. On the other hand, that’s offset by the way it’s easier to navigate the environments with thumb sticks than it is via a touch screen interface.
In terms of content, every update to Among Us that has been released on every other platform can be found on the PS5 version. All 4 current maps – The Skeld, Airship, Polus and MIRA HQ – are all included here, alongside their unique jobs and quirks. The vent cleaning tasks (which prevents an imposter from using a vent to get around the map quickly), introduced in July, as well as the most recent updates, including the Jelly Beans and the premium currency Stars, are here too. Much like the PC version of Among Us, you’ll have to buy the game up front on PS5 for a small fee – but there’s also micro-transactions within the game. To give Inner Sloth credit here, the implementation of the monetisation does not encroach on the core experience in any way. Stars, which can be bought with real world cash, are only spent on cosmetic items. It’s totally optional and is implemented in the “hey, this is here if you would like to buy it, but no pressure” method of monetisation.
It’s important to review Among Us in the context of how it arrives on PlayStation 5 too. When the game initially blew up on mobiles, it was a unique prospect. Since then, a whole host of other games have taken the formula and put their own twist on it. Some have their own original aspects of gameplay while others are simply ‘imposters’ (har har har). The biggest companies in the industry have attempted to capture the same lightning in a bottle that Inner Sloth has. In my opinion, Among Us is still the best social deduction game on the market. It’s certainly my favourite on PS5. While others offer an element of combat or more realistic visuals, it’s the simplicity and accessibility of Among Us that makes it stand out from the crowd. This is a game that I can play with my parents, friends, kids and strangers and we’ll have a rollicking good time, which I can’t say about many of the other games in this genre. That for me makes Among Us the top of its class.
Finally making its way onto PlayStation, Among Us is still the very best that the social deduction genre has to offer. Using some inventive workarounds to support controllers, this game loses little to nothing in the port away from its natural home on phones and tablets. With a group of strangers, it’s easy to have a great time with this game. With friends, Among Us comes alive in one of the best multiplayer experiences on the market today as you attempt to stab your pals in the back. Both figuratively and literally.
Among Us is available now on PlayStation 5 (review platform), PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Series consoles, PC, Nintendo Switch, mobile and tablet devices.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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