Desperate attempts to sway voters! A hacking scandal! Back-stabbing and sabotage! Are we talking about US politics or Among Us? Actually, it’s both.
How ironic that a game about mistrust and the need for solidarity is 2020’s biggest hit. Among Us has become so big that US senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently took to Twitch to play a game, using the opportunity to urge the audience to vote in the American elections. Incredibly, more than 400,000 people tuned in to see her play.
Meanwhile, in apparent retaliation, an anonymous hacker by the name of Eris Loris has since invaded more than 4.5m games to direct people to a pro-Trump channel, containing the message Trump2020. Among Us developers Innersloth are ‘super duper aware of the hacking issue and looking in to it’.
So what is the game itself all about? Well, actually, it’s not so far removed from a politics simulator. In the simplest of terms, Among Us is a murder mystery game set on a space station, with two opposing sides trying to take each other out. You can play with between 4-10 people, with up to 25% of those players starting the game as ‘imposters’ and the rest being crewmates.
In order to win, imposters must stop crewmates from performing essential maintenance tasks, kill enough crewmates so the numbers balance out, or complete a ‘sabotage’ of the ship. The crewmates, meanwhile, must complete all their maintenance tasks or identify or kill all the imposters to win.
Unlike imposters, the secrets of Among Us are easy to spot. In a year where everyone has been pulled apart, it represents a fun, easy way to be social through gaming. It brings the spirit of a boardgame or party game to multiple platforms, most of which allow for cross-play, so friends on Android and iPhone can play together. It’s endlessly replayable and largely unpredictable, due to the reliance on subtlety and guile, rather than strict gameplay.
With such a popular game, it’s unavoidable that children of all ages will flock to play. There is nothing sinister about Among Us, with a cartoon style and humorous death animations that range from imposters swallowing crewmates, to blowing them into smoke with over-sized tanks. As with all online games, who your children are playing with is more important than the content itself. Voice chat and communication is limited in Among Us, but is nonetheless a fundamental part of the game, so playing with strangers may lead to them hearing adult content.
Speaking of which, adult content is more than we’ve come to expect from the US election race. If you want a good old-fashioned back-stabbing, just stick to Among Us instead.
The Irish vote is important to the US election race, but we never thought it would matter in Ubisoft’s race for sales. Then again, just like politics, here’s another game that involves back-stabbing. The developers of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla have announced that the game’s first major expansion is called Wrath of the Druids, and takes players to ancient Ireland.
During your quest to the Emerald Isle, you’ll be able to fortify a ring fort of your own, explore the ‘darker side of Celtic mythology’ and even visit a bustling Dublin, during its early days as a trading port.
When Valhalla was first announced, we felt it needed something special to grab attention. While Wrath of the Druids doesn’t come out until Spring, it’s more than enough reason for Irish gamers to be excited about what’s coming. Although, strangely, it will almost certainly involve inflicting violence on Irish people in our own country. That’s one way to win the green vote, Ubisoft!
Finally, Xbox Game Pass continues to get our vote as the best value in gaming right now. Considering most of us don’t have time to play all the games we want, having a constantly updating library of old and new games to play for a set fee is ideal. This month’s additions include some of our all-time favourite games, in Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango and Full Throttle. These old-school adventure games represent some of gaming’s most witty, well-told stories, and some of our most vibrant gaming universes. Vote with your wallets on this one, and give them a shot.