Among Us might be one of the biggest games of 2020, but it’s never going to win any awards for originality. Among Us is just one of many attempts to transplant the Mafia/Werewolf party game formula to the video game format, and it’s not the only one to do so with a sci-fi twist. The Jackbox Party Pack 6 contained a game called Push The Button, which had the same concept, but with different execution.
The premise of Among Us and Push The Button is almost identical. The players are astronauts on an interstellar mission. There is an alien (or multiple aliens) hiding among their number. It’s the job of the human crewmates to dispose of the aliens, and vice-versa. The alien crewmates have special abilities that allow them to deal with the humans so that they can come out on top.
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Push The Button has a clear advantage in this department. Among Us’ visuals can charitably be described as functional, with the exception of the UI, which is horrible. It’s no wonder that the developers were working on a sequel before the first game became a hit, as Among Us would benefit a great deal from a visual overhaul. The Jackbox games generally have a stellar presentation and Push The Button is no exception. The only problem is the character models. The character design for the crewmates in Among Us has that perfect level of simplicity, similar to the beans in Fall Guys, while the crewmates in Push The Button are barely a factor in the experience. Push The Button is about the player sitting at home, while Among Us has the extra level of roleplaying as the characters themselves.
The minigames in Among Us are functional. They exist for the purpose of trying to win the game, as it’s possible for the crewmates to succeed if they complete all of the tasks on time. This outcome rarely happens, and most games of Among Us involve the death of the crew or the crew identifying the aliens. You would be hard-pressed to call the Among Us minigames fun, but that’s not their main function.
The minigames in Push The Button are a lot more enjoyable. The game involves a different player taking the captain’s chair each round, and they determine who takes part in the minigames. The alien crewmates are given different instructions than the human players for each task, but they have a limited number of hacks that they can use to mess with other players. The minigames themselves are a lot more fun than the ones in Among Us, as they are meant to be played in a party environment. Just be prepared to duck a drink thrown by one of your friends if you can’t follow their instructions in Bioscanner.
Rounds Vs. Emergency Call
Where Push The Button stumbles is in its voting system. All players have the ability to push the button once and can choose other players to put in the airlock. The rest of the players then vote on whether to flush them out or not. The problem is that, if at least one alien isn’t flushed out, then they automatically win the game.
The constant threat of the airlock is part of what makes Among Us so fun. The reason the game took off in the way it did is that it gives people the chance to test out their lying skills against their friends. In Push The Button, it’s one and done. The fact that only a single alien needs to survive a round of voting means that it’s extremely easy for crewmates to win when there is one alien, and really easy for crewmates to lose when there are multiple aliens. Among Us’s multiple rounds and emergency calls is a key component of its success.
Tension Vs. The Friendly Game
Among Us and Push The Button have almost identical concepts. The main difference is that one is meant for repeated play, and one is meant for short-term laughs at a party. Push The Button is a lot of fun in bursts, especially when drinking with your friends. It’s a better-looking game and it’s built around its fun minigames. The problem is that the swift resolution of the games means that it’s not as satisfying to play in the long term. The reason Among Us has become so popular is its level of replayability. It keeps the players engaged with each other throughout the experience, even when playing online. Push The Button works best when played with friends in a room, and that can be a tall order, even during normal times. Push The Button has a lot going for it, but there is a reason why it hasn’t captured the imagination of fans around the world in the same way that Among Us has.
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Scott has been writing for The Gamer since it launched in 2017 and also regularly contributes to Screen Rant. He has previously written gaming articles for websites like Cracked, Dorkly, Topless Robot, and TopTenz. He has been gaming since the days of the ZX Spectrum, when it used to take 40 minutes to load a game from a tape cassette player to a black and white TV set.
Scott thinks Chrono Trigger is the best video game of all time, followed closely by Final Fantasy Tactics and Baldur’s Gate 2. He pretends that sorcerer is his favorite Dungeons & Dragons class in public but he secretly loves bards.
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