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Words: Callum Williams
The pandemic has brought to light several odd revelations since it sent the world into lockdown. Toilet paper is apparently worth its weight in gold, pasta is a valued necessity worth fighting for, and students are locked in makeshift prisons while being charged nine grand a year. The gaming world has even had a few revelations of its own. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout shot to stardom back in August, somehow making Big Yeetus a household name, while Phasmophobia, a game developed by just one person, became this Halloween's most coveted horror-hit.
Then there's InnerSloth's indie multiplayer behemoth Among Us. Developed by three people and released to little fanfare back in 2018, the game blew up this summer, quickly amassing a huge player base and gaining major viral attention. It topped the Steam charts, became one of Twitch's most-watched games, and is now a fixture of app stores across the world.
As Among Us, Fall Guys, and Phasmophobia have made plenty clear, the games industry is embracing multiplayer indie games with unique concepts more than ever before. However, the success of these hits begs one question: what game will manage to replicate Among Us' viral ascent next? Here's six up-and-coming indie titles that might just be able to scratch that same itch, if you're feeling a little burned out on ejecting imposters into the dead cold of space.
Channelling the chaotic, physics-based combat of Gang Beasts and the irreverent humour of Fall Guys, Party Animals has all the making of a breakout hit. Picking from a series of adorable animal avatars, players must wage war against their friends, wielding baseball bats, tasers, and giant two-handed lollipops to slay their cuddly opponents and secure victory.
Party Animals is packed with numerous arenas too, including a submerging submarine and a sweet factory, while its slapstick action can occur over several modes. It doesn't hurt that the game's recent demo was also a magnet for streamers, with the likes of Jacksepticeye, Corpse and more playing it during October. Although it's currently not released on Steam, Party Animals has enough fly-kicking otters and taser-wielding kittens to ensure it'll be the centre of attention when it does.
Although part of Among Us' charm is its hand-drawn 2D aesthetic, let's be honest. We've all imagined what getting murdered in electrical would be like in 3D. Lo and behold, someone provided that exact experience - and before Among Us had even reached viral stardom. Titled Unfortunate Spacemen, this game of treachery and deceit is an almost uncanny 3D take on the gameplay of Among Us. Well, except for the fact that the imposter can turn into a Cronenbergian nightmare and everybody has massive guns to shoot them in the face.
Available for free on Steam, Unfortunate Spacemen is gradually enticing more players thanks to the success of its remarkably similar 2D doppelgänger. A little extra notoriety online and it has all the tools to replicate Among Us' popularity. It also doesn't feature that infuriating card-swiping task, which is enough to make me jump ship ten times over...
Appearing like a manic blend of Phasmophobia and GMod's Prop Hunt, Midnight Ghost Hunt seems like a prime candidate to cash in on the success of both games. The concept is simple: one group of players take control of the ghosts, posing as inanimate objects around a large manor. The other group scours the premises as the hunters, sweeping the eerie halls to uncover the ghosts' hiding spots. If the hunters don't manage to track down and exterminate their paranormal foes by midnight, the tables turn and the ghosts hunt down their pursuers.
It's a smart concept that's rife with potential, especially with Phasmophobia proving there's a surprisingly wide market for horror games that let you soil yourself with a friend. There's no release date currently attached to Midnight Ghost Hunt, but it could definitely turn a few heads when it eventually hits Steam.
Deathground is essentially Alien: Isolation crossed with that one scene in Jurassic Park where the two kids hide from a pair of velociraptors in a kitchen. If that alone doesn't sell you on Jaw Drop Games' dinosaur-infested co-op survival horror, I don't know what will.
Set in a remote facility occupied by a host of Mesozoic-era nasties, teams of up to three players must come together to sneak around an onslaught of velociraptors, T-Rexes, and more. According to the game's Steam page, dinosaurs will react to groups dynamically, with players having to utilise a host of advanced gadgets to give them the slip. Overall, it seems like a premise with a lot of potential, especially because the market has a big dinosaur-shaped hole at the moment. Just don't blame us when your movie-buff mate won't stop saying "clever girl" at every opportunity...
If you're looking for a potential gem that could benefit from the same success as Among Us, why not focus on a game that's directly influenced by it. Stowaway takes the inherent ideas of InnerSloth's multiplayer sleuth simulator and transports it to a different setting. Here, players must investigate a dainty ship, with the crew consisting of ten sailors with suspicious googly eyes and villainously twirlable moustaches.
There are a few notable differences, however. The perspective has shifted to 3D, imposters are called stowaways and, instead of being ejected from the airlock, voted off sailors are loaded into a canon and fired out to their humiliating demise - that's sure to make for a wholesome post-game lobby. As with Unfortunate Spacemen, Stowaway could be a strong alternative for players wanting a fresh take on Among Us' core gameplay, especially considering its fun change of scenery.
"Old people mayhem sandbox game." That's the official, quoted genre plastered over the marketing for Just Die Already, the new chaotic co-op game from the minds behind Goat Simulator. Building off the ludicrous, physics-based gameplay of said previous hit, DoubleMoose is trading in its 'simulative' goat experience to allow players to instead "embrace their inner-boomer".
No, you won't have to get angry about tattoos or post Minions memes on Facebook, but instead team up with a few friends to show the youth a thing or two about respecting their elders. Naturally, that means wielding lightsabers, flying jetpacks, shooting rocket launchers, and generally engaging in all manner of outlandish activities. If Goat Simulator showed us anything, it's that the team at DoubleMoose (which is to say, the folk there who were previously at Coffee Stain) knows how to go viral, and Just Die Already's wacky premise is already enough to suggest it could share that same rampant success.
Featured Image Credit: InnerSloth, New Blood Interactive, Sandstorm Studios Inc
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