By now you’ve almost definitely heard of Among Us, the exceedingly popular deception-based party game that’s netted several millions of downloads in the last few months alone. While Among Us is enjoying massive success–no doubt due to lockdown, its accessible crossplay support, and the fact that it’s free to play–it isn’t the only game of its kind. If you’re on the hunt for similar social deduction games that boast a fine balance between cooperation and deception and can be played online, no contact necessary, check out some of our favorites in the roundup below.
Push the Button (Jackbox Party Pack 6)
Platforms: PC/Mac/Linux (Steam, Humble, Epic Games), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
Like Among Us, Jackbox Party Pack 6’s Push the Button is a social deception game that supports 4-10 players. It’s also set in space and separates teams into humans and aliens. The humans’ goal is to identify the aliens and eject them from the ship while the aliens work to sabotage those plans and get the humans to misidentify each other. I prefer Push the Button to Among Us for its more humorous minigames and deliberation sessions. In one minigame, players have to draw a picture based on a prompt, but the aliens are given a slightly different prompt. If an alien “hacks” one of the tests, a human player might be given an alien prompt, which could bring them under scrutiny from their teammates.
By making the actual “tasks” more interesting (tests rather than chores), Push the Button encourages more friendly banter throughout the game rather than just during the brief meeting periods where players discuss their suspicions. It also provides more unique opportunities for deception and comedy, as alien players might be forced to justify a strange test result.
You can play Push the Button in The Jackbox Party Pack 6, which is available on pretty much all major platforms and digital storefronts.
– Chloi Rad (Editor)
Secret Hitler (Web version)
Platforms: Desktop browser-based (unofficial), physical board game
Secret Hitler is a battle of wits and restraint. As someone who is notoriously terrible at restraint, this game forced me to reel back the knee-jerk gasps that give me away in so many of those games. While Secret Hitler shares Among Us’ core element of deception, the perpetrator isn’t as easily identifiable. You can’t just point to someone else, claiming you saw something–this is about the long game. And messing with people’s minds. There’s a lot of that.
Players are divided into two teams: liberals and fascists, the latter with a randomly selected Hitler. Each round, the rotating role of President is in charge of passing policies along with an elected Chancellor. These policies are drawn face-down from a deck, and it’s up to the two of them to figure out which ones to choose. For the liberal party, the goal is to pass five liberal policies or assassinate Hitler. As for the fascists, they win if either six fascist policies are implemented or when Hitler gets elected to Chancellor. At the end of each round, everyone can discuss what happened and what to do next. That’s when the fun (and panic) starts.
You can let the other players argue among themselves, allowing paranoia to take cautious guesses to emotionally charged heights, or you can attempt to corral the masses with a desperate, imploring speech. If a fascist law passes, was it on purpose or an accident? Toward the end, all of you will look like Charlie in the mail room from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I guarantee it. And even then, the game will still manage to surprise you.
– Ashley Oh (Senior Social Media Producer)
Trouble in Terrorist Town (Garry’s Mod)
Platforms: PC/Mac/Linux (Steam)
Trouble in Terrorist Town is one of the most iconic game modes from Garry’s Mod, and it still holds up over 10 years later. Players are divided up into a team of Innocents, a team of Traitors, and a team of Detectives. Traitors must eliminate all Innocent players while Innocents and Detectives must survive while positively identifying all Traitors. Both Traitors and Detectives can purchase weapons and other equipment from an exclusive buy menu, which Innocents don’t have access to. Detectives even have access to a DNA scanner and a few other devices that can provide more information on the circumstances of a player’s death.
Because of the large maps, action-oriented gameplay, wide arsenal of weapons and tools, and built-in voice communication, Trouble in Terrorist Town has a lot to offer in terms of emergent comedy and psychological mind games. You’ll need both Garry’s Mod and Counter-Strike: Source to play, which makes it a little less accessible than some of the other games on this list. But if your crew is on Steam and doesn’t mind a more dated option, Trouble in Terrorist Town remains a classic of the genre.
– Chloi Rad (Editor)
Platform: PlayStation 4
The folks who made Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology are also behind Hidden Agenda on PlayStation 4. Like Among Us, it’s a low-impact party game that works well even for people who don’t play a lot of video games. The entire game is played with a smartphone app, and like Until Dawn, it’s largely about watching interactions, learning about characters, and making choices about how the story unfolds.
Hidden Agenda is something of an interactive movie in which several characters hunt a serial killer. Your interactions with the game include finding objects in investigations and voting on dialogue choices with the other players. The thing is, some of those players might have, surprise, hidden agendas. Not everyone has the same conditions to win the game, and some people might try to sabotage your progress.
Hidden Agenda’s presentation–more of a cinematic thriller than a traditional video game–and its use of the PS4 PlayLink app as a controller means it’s the kind of game you can play with just about anyone. Its skill requirements are pretty low, and it rewards people who pay attention and think out their choices carefully. You also can play it without differing agendas, so all players can focus on discovering who the murderer is in the game’s story, rather than discovering who the imposter is among your friends.
If you liked Until Dawn but wished there was more police procedure and lying involved, this is a fun one to check out.
– Phil Hornshaw (Editor)
Platforms: PC (Steam)
Take Among Us, throw it on a mountain, and call it Project Winter. You and up to seven other players work together to get everything you need to call a helicopter and escape with your lives–except two of those players are actually working against you. No one knows who the traitors are, and because voice chat is proximity-based, they’ll have to be smart about when they coordinate their moves to prevent the survivors from leaving the mountain. Leading a survivor to their demise in the thick wilderness is a risky play; you never know if another survivor will show up to see you deliver their comrade’s final moments. Survivors constantly question who they can trust, but with the threat of wild animals and the treacherous climate, they can’t complete their tasks alone. And if a traitor happens to reveal themselves, it’s not as easy as ejecting them into the void of space. They still pose a threat and can pick off each survivor one by one… but how do you know this supposed traitor wasn’t just defending themselves from the real traitor? Welcome to the paranoia of Project Winter.
– Mat Paget (Editor)
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