I absolutely adore Among Us. Like many of you, I’ve played it to death over the past few months. Its phenomenal, deserved popularity has come with an added benefit – it’s led me to reconnect with old friends and get to know my current crop of comrades better. Personality traits spill out like hot honey when you’re in the interrogation phase. You can really learn a lot about a person when they’re being accused of murder, turns out!
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But I expect that some Among Us players who have declared the deceit royale their new favourite genre may be looking for something more, and that’s where Project Winter comes in.
Project Winter is essentially 3D Among Us, with a wider set of mechanics and unique player roles to dig into. It’s a little different in its premise – you play a set of adventurers in a remote arctic cabin, and the innocents have to complete tasks to call in a chopper and escape.
Meanwhile, traitors in the group sabotage their plans, lay traps and off stray explorers in fits of terrible violence. It’s great fun, and for me, it’s been the perfect game to ‘level up’ to after playing Among Us, given its extra nuance.
Because as amazing as Among Us is, it has a modest makeup, which has ultimately helped the game to achieve mainstream appeal. The visuals are simple but charming, and the gameplay mechanics are limited but weirdly addicting, like trying to swipe that bastard card to complete a ship task. Project Winter isn’t necessarily a replacement to Among Us, but it offers noticeable upgrades in all of these areas, as well as several smart ideas of its own.
You see, you don’t ‘call a vote’ in Project Winter, you exile people from the game’s starting location, a log cabin. The cabin is of utmost importance – it has a chest, a crafting table, a stove, and the radio to call for extraction. You have a hunger and a warmth bar in Project Winter, so it also doubles as a safe haven from the blizzard that frequently rages outside, and the only means to munch on cooked food.
If someone is acting suspicious you can lock them out from all of these essential features – but what I like most about this addition is that it doesn’t outright kill them when you do it. You don’t kick them out the airlock, so to speak. The only way to get rid of a traitor is to physically kill them with weapons or escape. This means that even when the innocents know who the traitors are, the game still continues, which leads to absolutely outrageous mind games and hi jinks.
Even when you’re dead, you can fly around the map as a ghost, providing health, hunger or warmth buffs to your still-living comrades, or debuff them if you’re a dead traitor. The agency that courses through every section of this game is really refreshing.
There’s so much to talk about with Project Winter, but in the interest of being terse, let’s focus on one of the broader strokes, which is the role system. In Project Winter, even the innocent players (as well as the traitors) have roles to play, with special abilities attached. Detectives can investigate bodies to determine killers, Scientists can revive the dead and Soldiers can open armories full of weapons. There’s also an Identity Thief role, which doesn’t have any loyalty to survivors or traitors – they just have to defraud the other players to escape.
Perhaps the most brilliantly designed role is the Defector, which I had the fortune (misfortune?) of playing recently. Defector’s can open Traitor Crates, which as you might expect, can usually only be opened by Traitors, who have to do so in a clandestine fashion. If you do this within earshot of innocents then suspicions rise, naturally.
In a recent match I opened a traitor crate, collecting land mines which I used around the crate itself to lure and kill a potential traitor. Then I went back to mining and told my friend that I had done this. Minutes later, one of the game’s random ‘Global Events’ occurred which teleported all of us to different remote spots on the map.
As I shouted on proximity chat to achieve strength in numbers, the same friend came running – and let’s just say, I shortly realised that I had told the wrong friend about my traitor trap. They bludgeoned me to death with an axe in a bunker, and finished me off as I crawled towards the cabin, crying out and hoping someone would discover such a sorry scene via the proximity chat.
Yet in a stroke of pure serendipity, failures in their short-term memory led them to walk right into the very landmine I had planted and so naively told them about. In the ensuing chaos, they were found out and the three remaining players froze to death duking it out in the mega-blizzard. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much playing a game in a long time. The game has become one of my 2020 favourites in a matter of hours… I expect we’ll be playing a lot more of it in the near future.
It’s worth noting that Project Winter launched in February 2019, nearly a year after Innersloth launched Among Us in June of 2018. I’m not sure whether the developers were specifically inspired by Among Us, but it’s definitely riffing within the same milieu, and it’s hordes of fun as a result. More betrayal simulator games please!
The good thing is that if you want to check it out, Project Winter is also very cheap right now thanks to the Steam Winter Sale. For $11.52 (£8.51), as long as you’ve got a solid group of friends to play with, this is a steal. There’s potential for tens of hours of fun and the developers are still working to add more modes and features to the game, alongside a tide of cosmetics. If you’re bored of Among Us… you really need to check out Project Winter!