Given the current restrictions people find themselves with now during COVID-19 times, the internet has become a necessary form of collaboration and communication for a variety of media. We take classes online, order food online and overall, somehow keep pace with the accelerating downwards spiral of society via our online news feeds. But all of this can get overwhelming sometimes. What better way for a socialization-starved college student to relieve some of their stress than a bit of fun with friends? Cue the two games constituting the latest craze in online multiplayer mania: Among Us and Fall Guys.
Kicking off this review, Among Us has global fans shouting the phrase “u sus” from the rooftops. I don’t know about you guys, but my friends and I have been absolutely addicted to the uber-popular online whodunnit game since the start of the semester. We can’t meet in person, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun by accusing each other of murder over the internet. It surprised me to learn that the game first released back in 2018, given how perfectly the fast-paced team-based game promotes camaraderie (and suspicion) during this era’s social distancing measures. Essentially, the game is a more interactive form of that other popular online impostor game Town of Salem, or if you’re not into video games, it is most like the card game Mafia.
You play the role tiny jelly bean-shaped spaceman, and the goal of the game is simple: kill or avoid being killed, depending on whether or not you are randomly selected at the beginning of every round to be an “impostor.” In a lobby of up to 10 people, the “crewmates” must complete routine maintenance tasks on a spaceship while 1 or more “impostors” work to stealthily kill off all crewmates. Within each round, meetings can be called among the players so that they can discuss (either using the game’s built-in text chat function or an outside voice connection) who they might think may be the impostor, based on what they observe other players are doing during play. If enough players come to an agreement on a particular suspect, they can choose to vote that person to be ejected from the spacecraft, eliminating one possible murderer. The game ends in one of 4 ways, the impostor successfully kills all crewmates without being voted off, the crewmates vote off all impostors, the crewmates successfully complete all their tasks or the crew fails to complete a critical maintenance task that takes down the whole ship at once.
This game is dynamic in the way that each round a new impostor is chosen, meaning that each round must employ new strategies to either spot suspicious players, or remain undetected by others. The speed and ease of each game is dependent entirely on the wit and strategies of the players, and more often than not, how badly someone can bluff. Among Us is an even greater joy to play with pals that you know well, preferably over voice chat (because let’s be honest, the text chat function is a little lacking). Knowing that any one of your friends could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing turns the energy of the game to an inherently high notch, and being able to squeeze a confession out of somebody is probably the most satisfying feeling ever. 9/10, everyone should experience being put in the spotlight of suspicion in a tantalizing game of Among Us.
Fall Guys is similar to Among Us in that it is best played with friends, and it holds a similar multiplayer, race-against-the-clock type feel to it, where multicolored jelly bean-shaped players (what’s up with jelly beans?) must complete different tasks to progress. But with Fall Guys is, you know you don’t have true ANY allies – disregarding ones that are simply convenient during any given minigame.
It’s a tournament between you and 59 other players, and only one can come up on top. Each minigame consists of you controlling your wobbly little player around obstacle courses and game stages, with challenges thrown in ranging from platforming and soccer to Simon says and tag. The constant cycle of minigames keeps players on their toes for what’s next, and it really encourages players to develop strategies for each stage, as messing up even once during a minigame could result in instant disqualification from the tournament. What’s more, each round, the number of players that are allowed to move forward in the tournament is capped lower and lower, meaning that a badly timed minigame can make all the hard work put in up to that point for naught.
Although Fall Guys is at heart a PvP game, it provides players with an option for groups of 4 friends to maintain groupspeak during any given match. Use this function at your discretion, to intimidate, harass, encourage or collaborate with your “friends” while you all compete for 1st place. But despite this combative nature, parties in Fall Guys usually come with an overwhelmingly supportive undertone, as when one member of the party falls, they are pulled into third person spectator mode for their friends, allowing them for a chance at de-facto victory post-mortem. All in all, another great game, 8/10, meant to bring friends together, while simultaneously forcing them to test the limits of their friendship in pursuit of that W.
Among the accusing, screaming and cheering, Fall Guys and Among Us have found their incredible rise in popularity for their ability to draw friends together for that much needed connection that has been missing for much of quarantine.