Among Us was a strange success tale of the 2020 pandemic and ensuing gamer boom.
Released in 2018, it took two years for the game to take off after several high-profile streamers started playing. The premise is simple – a science-fiction vision of the classic kids game Mafia. While not the first game with this premise, it proved the most successful. Now, fans clamor for similar games, and Unfortunate Spacemen may scratch that itch.
Rise of the Whodunit
As Novel Suspects notes, the ‘Whodunit’ trope has been a staple of fictional entertainment for over a century. From Sherlock Holmes to a slew of Agatha Christie novels banking on the premise, people love to figure out who killers are while watching the drama unfold in real-time.
Recent success stories like Knives Out showed that people are not necessarily over the genre, either. However, video games were late to the mix.
Mystery games are nothing new, and several games like LA Noire had an aspect of the whodunit genre. However, few utilized the potential social benefits of a team-based version of the game. While some were moderate successes, few reached the heights that Among Us did. After the game’s iconic release, however, audiences clamored for similar games like it.
Rise of ‘Among Us’
As Cultured Vultures notes, Among Us doesn’t try to get by on masterful graphics or fantastic gameplay. It’s a relatively simple game with retro, cartoon-like graphics, simple controls, and no story.
While never explicitly stated, the gameplay implies that a group of astronauts are in a spaceship, base, or headquarters when an unknown impostor takes over and picks them off one by one while helpless players perform menial tasks.
Everything outside of that is up to the players. With one or two impostors, it’s up to them to kill as many crewmates as they can without getting caught and voted out. Whether they choose to kill people until victory or let the other players duke it out on their own is up to them.
It combines the gameplay of a classic school game with the benefit of social interaction – a key reason why it took off during the pandemic.
The game became a cultural phenomenon after streamers, politicians, celebrities, and athletes used the game to play with friends and fans alike. The game’s simplicity is its biggest asset, as the simple graphics and minimalist controls allow people to have a little fun without too many restrictions. All they need to do is either kill the crewmates or survive the impostors. However, the makers of Unfortunate Spacemen, Among Us couldn’t have released at a better time. The game was released in 2016 and received help from its more simplistic genre-sibling.
What is ‘The Unfortunate Spacemen’?
According to PCGAmesN, Sandswept Studios’ Unfortunate Spacemen, now available on PC, has a similar premise. Each game starts with different-colored astronauts wandering through a heavily rendered, more high-quality space setting. While the game lets people play against AI, its biggest asset is the multiplayer mode, allowing 16 players to accomplish tasks around the map.
Like Among Us, players have a list of tasks they must complete before the killer picks them off. However, unlike Among Us, these players can fight back The game is more intuitive with choices about how to kill players. Sometimes, players can use their creativity to trick others into traps. For fans of Among Us who want something more in tune with 2021’s onset of realistic games, this one is perfect.
Still, the game thrives on its odd premise, allowing people to feel the discomfort of being stranded up in space with nowhere to run. Among Us was the long-gestating hit that went from obscurity to superstardom overnight. As such, the modest success of other games like Unfortunate Spacemen benefited from its overnight success.
For those burnt out from crewmates and impostors, perhaps this more polished take on the genre is exactly what they need as society opens back up, and being trapped no longer feels like a game.
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