The summer of 2020 left millions of people across the globe feeling bored and isolated, but, thanks to a legion of Twitch streamers and YouTubers, a little free-to-play game from 2018 saw a surge of popularity. That game? Innersloth’s Among Us, which, by November 2020, received a staggering 217 million mobile downloads. Part of the game’s “meteoric” rise in popularity stems from the way Among Us “took an age-old formula and made it free and accessible to so many.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Among Us, players are dropped onto a spacecraft and, before a match starts, each player is discretely assigned a role as — “crewmate” or “impostor.” Crewmates are tasked with exploring the ship and completing tasks to fix it, all while avoiding the imposter(s), whose aim is to murder the crew members while staying undercover. If you’re the imposter, staying stealthy is a must: crewmates have various opportunities to vote “sus” (or suspicious) players off the ship, which could mean a game over for the imposter(s) — or a wrongful ousting of legitimate crewmates.
But, like all viral hits, Among Us isn’t getting the same buzz it once did. After all, there aren’t a ton of maps or game modes, so while playing online offers the most in terms of replay value, even that excitement starts to fade after a few months. With this in mind, we’ve created a list of must-play social deduction games for those who are feeling that Among Us fatigue.
Town of Salem
Self-described “a game of murder, deception, lying and mob hysteria,” Blank Media Games’ Town of Salem is a great social deduction game. Like Among Us, Town of Salem challenges players’ abilities to read people and detect lies. Best of all, up to 15 players can join in, making it even more difficult to weed out threats.
So, how does it work? Players are randomly divided into roles: Town, Mafia, Serial Killers, Arsonists, and Neutrals. If you’re a Town member, consider yourself a “good guy” as it’s your goal to track down the Mafia and other villains before they kill you. Meanwhile, the “bad guys” are roaming around the town, discreetly committing crimes without getting caught. Will you be able to parse out who’s on your side?
Available on: Android, iOS
This eight-person alternative to Among Us takes things up a notch. In order to win in Project Winter, collaboration with fellow players is key. While that’s sort of true of Among Us, working together is even more pressing here. The ultimate, shared goal? Escape and survive. This means you’re better off when you’re pooling resources and making repairs with your teammates.
The catch? Players assigned roles — survivors or traitors. As you might expect, traitors are tasked with stopping the survivors from escaping the wilderness. To do so, they can set traps, poison players, and use other tools and environmental hazards to hinder or kill would-be survivors. Meanwhile, survivors can break rocks, harvest berries and herbs, and chop down trees — all to gain materials for repairing and surviving.
Available on: Steam, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S; Coming soon to: PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch
Currently, Betrayal.io is undergoing Alpha testing, so it might not be the most stable experience while developers are working out the kinks. But if you’re interested in getting in on the ground floor, playing with pals and providing feedback on your in-game experiences via the game makers’ Discord server might be a lot of fun.
In this social deduction game, you play as either a crewmate or a saboteur, a.k.a. a betrayer, who aims to sabotage the crews’ operational tasks. Crewmates must complete their tasks or vote the betrayer off — without getting axed. In other words, it’s a lot like Among Us, but with a different (fresh) look. Moreover, Betrayal.io goes all in on character customization, allowing you to choose your avatar’s clothes, hairstyle, pets and more.
Available on: Browser; Android, iOS
Werewolves Within (+ Werewolves Online)
Chances are, you’ve played the old-school version of Werewolf, where you sit around a table and try to determine who’s the werewolf and who among you are just townspeople. Well, Werewolves Within brings the fun of group survival games to virtual reality (VR). With a guidebook in hand, players vote to eliminate potential werewolves from their ranks in order to stop them from masquerading around the village of Gallowston.
Set in a medieval town, this hit from Ubisoft is very fantasy-meets-mafia, making it feel quite different from outer space-themed Among Us, despite the games’ shared genre. Additionally, Werewolves Within is a fast-paced game of perception, deception, and survival, which means that no two games are the same. Full of replay value, up to eight players can get in on the fun so long as they have PlayStation Plus and a VR headset.
Not into VR? There’s a much more accessible version of the game available on iOS and Android, Werewolf Online, which allows up to 16 players from around the world to take part in this tried-and-true social deduction game.
Hide Online is a hide-and-seek-style action shooter game. Sounds fun, right? Players are divided into two teams, the Props and the Hunters. Prop players have the special ability to transform into objects — chairs, boxes, cups, and, yes, even toilets.
Can’t decide where to hide? Props have 30 seconds to transform into an object and hunker down. After that, Hunters will try to find them. During this intense hide-and-seek, Props can taunt and make sounds to throw Hunters off. Since the game’s launch, developers at HitRock Games have released new maps and character skins to keep things feeling fresh.
Available on: Android, iOS
Unfortunate Spacemen takes an Among Us-style approach to social deduction gameplay — but it also adds in a 3D combat component. Up to five players are employed by “The Company” and work diligently to defend — and eventually be rescued from — a fallen ship.
To facilitate the rescue, players work together to accomplish objectives. But proceed with caution: one of your friends is actually a shapeshifting space monster determined to stop the rescue and kill off you and your crewmates. Players are encouraged to communicate with one another as often as possible to identify the killer. However, identifying the shapeshifter is only the first step… players also have to kill them.
Available on: Steam
In this game, Civilians, the Undercover, and a figure named Mr. White share the land of Undercover, where as few as three and as many as 20 players must try to find out one another’s identities (and their own!) as quickly as possible.
Each player receives a secret word, which varies by role, and then takes a turn reciting a brief, truthful description of their word. If a player is a Mr. White, they must improvise their description. After the group discusses, they hold a vote to eliminate the player they believe has a different word from theirs. Once a player is eliminated by the group, the app will reveal their role.
Available on: Android, iOS