'Among Us': what to know about the online survival game that's all about deceit

Even though the online video game was released in 2018, it's had a recent surge in popularity

Players in the waiting room of a game in 'Among Us' 
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Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery? And these days, while we’re all socially distancing, what better way to stay connected to friends and family than by betraying them in a game of survival?

At least that's the premise for InnerSloth's Among Us. The game – which can be downloaded and played on a PC or mobile – was released in 2018, but over the past few months has gained more players owing to the pandemic. It's also been streamed by popular gamers on sites such as Twitch, bringing it even more attention.

So, if you’re looking to play it, here’s what to know:

How do you play 'Among Us'?

Each game can host between four to 10 players (the more, the better) and there are three different game maps to choose from, all of which are set in space – two are aboard a spaceship and one is on a planet.

Each player is a crewmate on the spaceship, but two are imposters whose main goal is to kill everyone else before being discovered. The crew can win the game if they finish their tasks or if they figure out who the imposters are and kick them off. The imposters can win if they kill everyone on board or get other players to vote off everyone else.

During the game, crewmates will run around the ship performing tasks while imposters look for victims. After a crew member is killed, if another member stumbles upon the body, they can report it and trigger a meeting between everyone on board.

Here's when the fun (and deceit) begins, as questions about who was nearby and who saw what begin. This is probably also the part where you figure out which of your friends and family are good at lying. Communication is done through in-game chat.

After the meeting, teams can choose to vote off a player or skip voting for that round and everyone returns to the ship to finish their tasks (or to kill off other crew members) and it continues. A player can also call an “emergency meeting” if they suspect they know who the imposter is.

What to keep in mind while playing

Among Us is played online so you will need either internet access or a data plan. Players can download the game for free on their mobile or pay $5 (Dh18.3) to download it from Stream to play on a PC. Gamers can host their own private games with friends or join online games with strangers.

It should be noted that if a game has the maximum 10 players, the game can also be customised to have as many as three imposters on the ship – which makes finding out who they are quickly even more vital.

Other things to look out for: imposters are the only players able to 'vent' (basically quickly travel through vents) around the game. That’s why knowing the ship’s map is important. If you are an imposter, after you kill a crew member, you can jump into a vent and quickly shift to another part of the ship. However, if other players witness this, they’ll also know that you’re an imposter.

Imposters are also given fake tasks so they look as though they’re a crewmate and also have the ability to sabotage a ship (such as cutting off the oxygen or turning out the lights). This means that crewmates will suddenly need to run to a specific area in order to fix it (which can sometimes be a set-up for being killed).

For a major sabotage, such as cutting off oxygen, there’s a time limit and if players cannot fix it in time, everyone dies and the imposter wins.

After a player dies or gets voted off, they become ghosts on the ship where they can see everyone and go through walls. But ghosts can also still continue their tasks and should do so because it helps their team win the game if it’s completed. Also, once dead, they cannot communicate with anyone still alive in the game, but can chat with other deceased players.

Why is it so popular?

Since the game allows a maximum of 10 players, rounds only last about 10 to 15 minutes. Perhaps even better, the game is also easy to understand and doesn't require much skill to play.

As mentioned, Among Us has found sudden attention thanks to gamers who stream it while playing live together. Watching the reactions of people trying to guess who the imposter is (and sometimes getting it very wrong) or lying terribly about not being the imposter is all quite entertaining.

The game has also gained traction on social media, with users praising the game's mechanics and small player count. It's very similar to playing an old-fashioned murder mystery board game but online.

The game has become so popular that InnerSloth had originally announced plans for Among Us 2. However, that's since been cancelled as the developers say they will put more focus on improving the first one.