Among Us is one of the video games that went through the roof during the pandemic. Released in 2018, the online social deduction game by the Innersloth studio was hardly played by gamers. In mid-2020, 1,5 million gamers were playing it at the same time. With the great digital success, board gamers naturally also wondered how the hit could be designed in analogue form. The German indie publisher Godot Games also took up this question. With Among Cultists they want to January 9 on Kickstarter launch a board game based on Among Us. We spoke to game designer Stefan Godot about his social deduction board game and want to give you an overview of the game in this crowdfunding preview.
Through the games of the Human Punishment series, Godot Games has already gained a lot of experience with social deduction games. With Among Cultists they take the genre to a new level, because unlike well-known genre representatives, it feels a lot like a board game. More specifically, it plays like a semi-cooperative dungeon crawler with a deduction component.
Cultists instead of imposters
In Among Cultists 4 - 8 people try to save an old university from a dark ritual performed by the cultists (in Among Us the Imposters) is carried out in their halls. However, depending on the number of players, 1 - 2 cultists are among the investigators (crewmates).
All players have so-called route cards. These determine in which room the end of the game may carry out actions in the next round. Investigators attempt specific tasks within 10 turns of their route (Tasks) while the cultists secretly ignore their routes and can also use them to lie within discussions. As a result, they are more flexible than their opponents. Since the cultists want to perform the dark ritual no matter what, this freedom allows them to sabotage quests and secretly murder players in encounters where there are no eyewitnesses.
The "Six Sense Phenomenon"
And here comes an advantage of the board game component. A murder like in Among Us is not possible here because it would be too obvious in an analog game. Godot Games has come up with something special for this:
A murder in an encounter occurs when the players involved exchange a card from their heart rate cover face down. This consists of life and death cards, with a single card being enough to kill someone. At the time of the exchange, the two players themselves do not know whether they are dead or not. This means that both players can still perform all sorts of actions in the game, even if they are actually dead. Only when another player in the same room or with the help of the surveillance camera checks the player's pulse does everyone find out whether this person is really dead and therefore a ghost.
Stefan affectionately called this the Six Sense phenomenon. The character just doesn't know yet if he's a ghost or not, and still does everything as if he were alive. With this component, Among Cultists opens up completely new discussion possibilities. For example, cultists can also check the pulse after an ally kills a person, claim that they are still alive, and blame the next player who has an encounter.
What makes Among Cultists better than some dungeon crawlers is that you're not directly out of the game when you die. You can still move around the game board as a ghost and even take part in voting. This is where another advantage of the analog format comes into play. The players never know exactly who killed whom, not even the ghosts. It is therefore possible that they can continue to play in Among Cultists and not just float around listlessly. However, the actions of the spirits are limited.
Lovecraft instead of space
With Innersloth showing no interest in a board game until now, Among Cultists took another popular theme. Being a big fan of Lovecraft himself and his original horror, Stefan already had plans to create a game in this setting before he came up with the idea for Among Cultists. Since the setting suited the game perfectly, he took illustrations and artwork from an old, retired prototype and adapted them for Among Cultists.
The original, indirect horror that Lovecraft achieves in his stories also creates Among Cultists. In contrast to many current titles, such as Cthulhu Wars, which throw around with the great old ones, Among Cultists manages to convey the original Lovecraftian vibe. The fear is perceived through the characters and the setting in the game. No one can really be trusted as anyone could be a cultist. The events surrounding the university that arise in each round are also unpredictable and act as a threatening factor that enhances the feel of the topic.
High replay appeal
Different roles, which can be used in games with advanced players, completely change the whole feel of the game. In total there will be 10 different roles besides the investigators and the cultists. Even more roles are said to be unlocked with stretch goals.
For example, the wimp dies after revealing a dead character. So this role is more cautious about checking other players. In return, the mechanic can ignore his route and perform space actions anywhere. Different characters help either the cultists or the investigators. So there is a lot of leeway to try out different constellations and thus change the game.
If that's not enough for you, you can also look forward to two expansions and thus two more towns, which change the feel of the game a bit and thus create additional variety. In the former we move across several islands that can be reached by boats. You can take other players on board, the only question is whether you want to. The second leads us into an abandoned mine with revolving doors and elevators that can only be used with electricity.
The mix of social deduction and dungeon crawler works on January 9 on Kickstarter and should, if everything goes smoothly, reach the supporters by September. The core game can be financed for about 50 euros, while the big pledge with the two extensions can be purchased for less than 100 euros. In addition, all supporters will receive a "Your Party In The Game" box, which makes it possible to bring their own characters, including family members or friends, into the game.
With Among Cultists, Godot Games is bringing a game onto the market that many board gamers who already enjoyed Among Us were urgently looking for. They transfer the feeling of playing 1 to 1 into the analog gaming world. On the GAME in Essen You could constantly hear the video game slang in discussions at the stand. Among Cultists has also impressed students in test games.
And Godot Games isn't done with Innersloth either. Depending on how successful Among Cultists becomes, the indie publisher would like to try to contact Innersloth again. With a successful campaign, Innersloth might still be persuaded to release an Among Us board game.
About Among Cultists
Number of players: 4 – 8
Author: Stefan Godot
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