“Orange! It’s Ora—!” the yellow Crewmate shrieked as I murdered him just east of the Skeld’s Lower Engine room.
“Shhhh…!” I breathed, smiling under the Meta Quest 2 headset as his mic cut out. I blasted some finger guns at the body, because disembodied hands look funny in VR, and quickly dashed north through the spaceship’s corridors. I ventured into Admin and was about to enter a vent when Lime Green called an emergency meeting.
“Uh-oh…where was the body?” I stammered, struggling not to laugh. Lime rushed towards me, hands waving, “YOU GOT ANYTHING TO SAY FOR YOURSELF, ORANGE!?” I told him I was scared, doing my best to sound confused. When Blue said it was either Orange or Lime, I asked, “Well where was Lime!?”
“Running from Orange!” Lime shot back. Ever the observant diplomat, Dark Green finally chimed in to say while she did not see anything herself, she did hear someone scream, “It’s Orange!”
Giggles in the void
I may have lost my stint as the murderous Imposter in Among Us VR, but I couldn’t wait to play again right away.
Among Us has a solid foundation for tense, dramatic gameplay. It’s a high-stakes social deduction game where hapless Crewmates struggle to repair a ship and survive against alien Imposters. It was an overwhelming success back in 2020, but the original version always felt a bit childish to me. The banter during every emergency meeting is compelling as the accusations fly and people panic, but conducting ship repairs is simple to the point of boring. And you can’t even really interact with other players during the core gameplay segments — except for all the killing. But a recent press preview of Among Us VR totally changed my mind about the viral hit.
While it can be a nightmare in many online games, proximity voice chat is the real game-changer that transforms Among Us VR into one of the best VR games I have ever played. Seeing this universe’s charming design in first-person is a delight, despite some minor cosmetic flaws. The slightly clunky controls also take a bit of getting used to, particularly when you need a firm grasp on your depth perception in VR if you’re going to complete your tasks in a timely fashion. Most tasks from the base game carry over, but having to execute them with your oversized Crewmate hands is a chuckle-worthy challenge every time.
The innate clunkiness of playing Simon Says with huge hands in VR is simultaneously funny and harrowing. Most tasks narrow your viewable area, so staying in pairs or small groups is beneficial until everyone has to make a desperate dash to fix sabotages that the Imposter creates. But that design choice also amplifies the tension.
A masterclass in atmosphere
VR plays its mind tricks on you when the lights flicker before going out altogether, or when doors suddenly lock you into one side of the ship. More than once, a fellow player and I screamed after we rounded a corner and bumped into each other, stammering things like “Get away from me!” or “Please don’t kill me!” The panic is palpable, and that first-person VR perspective makes it impossible to avoid getting physically startled when moments like these happen.
The Among Us VR soundscape is spectacular and meticulously crafted to foster dramatic tension and outright fear. You can hear where player footsteps and voices are coming from … and you can even hear when someone gets murdered nearby. Several times, I’d be working my way through a task in a small group, but then we’d hear the sickening squelch of murder and panic. We’d scatter to find the body, and in one case, the Imposter got a second kill. By the time somebody called a meeting, nobody had any idea who the killer was and spent most of the meeting screaming, pointing, and laughing.
The impeccable audio design continues after death. As a Ghost, you still need to complete your tasks, and while you can communicate with other Ghosts freely, living players can neither hear nor see you. During meetings, the main monitor screen appears broken, and through the veil of death, living voices sound strangely distorted.
You can tell a lot of care went into making the whole game as immersive as possible. Despite the inherent silliness of the signature Among Us style, the core game mechanics, lighting, and sound design create a perfect storm of a good time. And cosmetic wearables like hats make for just enough self-expression to make your avatar feel unique — even if people will only refer to you by your color regardless.
Only a little sus
The few complaints I have about Among Us VR could easily be fixed with subsequent updates, and they feel like nitpicks for the most part. Some of the environments, particularly the cafeteria, feel a bit too sprawling and bland. Adding a little bit of decoration like a spilled coffee cup on one of the vast blue tables could go a long way. There’s a buffet table on the northern end of the room, completely empty, which really should have some food on it. Why not let us pick up some food so we can throw it at each other?
Each room is a faithfully recreated version of the original, sometimes to a fault. It’ll probably feel pretty surreal to diehard Among Us fans. But as I was running through, the overall square footage felt a bit too sprawling and lacking in detail in some places. The art style is meant to be cartoonish and pristine, but when you’re inhabiting the body of a Crewmate (or Imposter), you’d expect to see at least some erosion or filth aboard a spaceship. Fun, colorful decorations like posters could be more plentiful.
The overall control scheme also takes some getting used to, which is where the mandatory tutorial comes in handy. On Meta Quest 2, the left analog stick controls your field of vision, and the right jolts your perspective something like 45 degrees to the left or right with each twist. It’s jarring at first, especially if you’re not already accustomed to similar VR control schemes, but before long, you’ll be running at a full tilt for the nearest sabotaged device.
Despite being an Among Us naysayer who mostly wrote off the original as a bit childish, I’ve been transformed into a diehard Crewmate by Among Us VR, a must-play virtual reality experience that vastly improves upon the original in every way.
Among Us VR will be released on Steam VR and Meta Quest 2 on November 10, 2022. Inverse reviewing it on Meta Quest 2.
INVERSE VIDEO GAME REVIEW ETHOS: Every Inverse video game review answers two questions: Is this game worth your time? Are you getting what you pay for? We have no tolerance for endless fetch quests, clunky mechanics, or bugs that dilute the experience. We care deeply about a game’s design, world-building, character arcs, and storytelling come together. Inverse will never punch down, but we aren’t afraid to punch up. We love magic and science-fiction in equal measure, and as much as we love experiencing rich stories and worlds through games, we won’t ignore the real-world context in which those games are made.