Watching people play Among Us has had me listening in on angry, loud, and often hilarious conversations between some of the top streamers recently. It's a budget experience at just $4.99/£3.99 on Steam, which makes it all the more impressive that it's rivalling games that have gradually earnt their top spots on Twitch. While it doesn't have the flashy appeal of Warzone, or the chaotic nature of Fall Guys, Among Us has raked in a surprising number of viewers over the past couple of months, channeling the intrigue of a good old-fashioned murder mystery.
If you're yet to catch a game of Among Us, it's worth dropping in to watch a match. Its premise is simple, dropping ten players onto a spaceship and setting them mundane tasks to complete. From swiping a keycard, to connecting a few brightly coloured wires, these tasks are truly the most tedious objectives to work through. This is just a sliver of a bigger picture, though.
Secretly operating within the team, a couple of players are actually 'Imposters' who are hellbent on sabotaging the entire operation by taking out other teammates. These players are able to blend in with the rest of the crew by pretending to work through similar tasks. However, they also have special abilities that let them scamper through vents, and create diversions that slow down the operations of the honest crew.
When a dead body is discovered, everyone then bundles into a meeting to discuss any suspicious behaviour they've witnessed over the past few minutes. Suspected Imposters can be voted out during these meetings, whittling the team down to a dangerously small group that makes them even more vulnerable to the remaining assassins. Winning then rests on the Imposters getting the job done, or the crew ejecting them before it's too late. It's even possible to win as the crew by filling the quota for all the tasks.
More than anything, Among Us' appeal stems from its focus on the players, and this is one of the reasons why it's not only fun to play with friends, but also entertaining to watch. If you're playing with a group of big personalities, there are bound to be some fireworks. Tensions mount as people become increasingly frustrated about potentially losing, or begin to sweat about getting found out. Seeing some of the most popular streamers come together to play, bicker, and deceive one another over and over again is exciting. It's a randomised murder-mystery on repeat. In most cases, you're likely rooting for your favourite streamer, so you're either in the dark as much as they are, or smuggly looking on as they tear the crew apart.
Good streamers also know how to include their viewers in the process, without running the risk of cheating. They can confidentially voice their suspicions to their chat, or play up to their destructive Imposter role by strategically eliminating other players. You'd think there would be complications as the majority of the party is likely streaming, so it only takes a few clicks to find out who the Imposters are in each game. Twitch chat seems about as invested as the streamers, though. In fact, there appears to be a lot of respect for Among Us' rules. While players have to conduct the meetings on Discord, it's rare to hear a deceased crew member blurt out who killed them. Usually, they'll lurk quietly in meetings, listening to the remaining crew argue, and floating around the spaceship continuing to complete tasks. Sure, there's the odd rage quit, but for the most part, the entire team is committed to playing properly.
One of the best Among Us moments I've witnessed so far is when xQc helped his Imposter buddy take out multiple crew members in quick succession to secure a victory. Although xQc had been long ejected, he was still able to lock doors and create diversions to orchestrate a perfect takedown of the remaining players. There are various approaches you can take as the Imposter, and it's fascinating to see people navigate the spaceship confidently amongst the crew. I've watched meetings descend into heated debates that target specific players, grilling them over every single movement they've made since the discussion. Then there's the thrill of watching as an Imposter avoids an ejection by spinning a wild yarn that other players lap up. You never know what will happen when you drop into Among Us, there's one thing for sure: you can't trust anyone.