Sam Overton Headshot

A little over a month ago, I ranked some prominent pandemic trends, ultimately rating Animal Crossing: New Horizons as the best thing to ever grace the Nintendo Switch. The popular video game, released in late March, soothed our troubled minds and put our worries to rest as we watched our little character blissfully pick apples off an animated tree or catch fish from a bright blue river. It was the epitome of tranquility, defined by its peaceful background music and loveable characters. For video game fans, Animal Crossing: New Horizons expressed an era of positivity and peacefulness.

However, all good things must come to an end.

Among Us, a straightforward video game inspired by the party game Mafia, has taken the world by storm. Everybody is playing it. Friends of mine who have never played a video game in their life are suddenly asking me if I’d like to join their server, and I’ve been part of group chats dedicated to dropping private server codes for a quick game in between classes. It’s so popular that the creators decided to kill the sequel in order to put their energy into improving the original. 

The premise of the game — in which an “imposter” (or two or three) attempts to kill off the remaining “crewmates” while maintaining anonymity — is incredibly simple, making it easy to play for even the newest gamers. However, it was released in June 2018, over two years ago. Why hasn’t it gained traction until this moment in time? In the middle of a pandemic, no less?

Personally, I think “pandemic fatigue” has settled in for the majority of Americans, especially college students. If you were forced to move back home, as I was, you’re probably at least a little bit sick of your family at this point. If you’re lucky enough to live in an apartment with your friends, the 1,000-square-foot pad you’re sharing with three other people has probably felt cramped for a while. We’re tired of takeout, virtual events have lost their shine and the cool weather is a sore reminder of the North Carolina State Fair, a packed stadium for a Wolfpack football game and more events that are getting canceled. The solution? Hop online to sabotage your friends in a video game with deceptively cute characters.

From Twitter memes to a Reddit page with over half a million members, Gen Z has embraced Among Us with an intensity that could never match the enthusiasm of Animal Crossing advocates. Despite the pleasure and instant gratification that I get from Animal Crossing, Among Us’s accessibility — it’s only $5 on Steam or free on any mobile device — and simple, yet addicting, gameplay makes it my favorite video game of 2020. Forget island codes, what color is the most suspicious? Are you a good crewmate, or do you noodle around and forget to complete your tasks?

If you haven’t downloaded Among Us yet, I can’t stress enough how simplistic and addicting this game is. Although you’ve probably seen it a million times in some form, whether it be through Twitch streams or Twitter accounts, it really is that enjoyable. It’s fun for five minutes or two hours, there’s a chance you could witness a hilarious conversation in the chat and the skyrocketing number of players makes it pretty easy to find a local server to play on. Take your pandemic frustrations out on your friends by doing everything you can to frame them as imposters, or spend your time as a sleuth to figure out the real culprit to get your mind off everyday annoyances. No matter what your strategy is, Among Us is a not-so-hidden gem among exceedingly simple video games.