- “Between Us”, the mafia role-playing game of the company InnerSloth, managed to become one of the most popular games in 2020.
- “Among Us” premiered on the Nintendo Switch, marking the game’s debut on consoles.
- Pairing “Between Us” with this generation’s fastest-selling console seems like a celestial fusion – unfortunately, that’s not the case.
- The Nintendo Switch port “Between Us” is obviously an inferior version of the game, worse than the PC and app version.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more news.
It’s amazing to think that in just a few months, “Between Us” has gone from being an obscure fun game about beans in space to becoming one of the biggest hits of the last few years. Blame it on the pandemic, the election, or whatever you want, but it turns out that people really like to stab their friends in the back and then push them second friends from air locks.
“Among Us” debuted as a free app on iPhone and Android devices in early 2018, followed shortly after by a paid version of the Windows PC. This made the game available not only to players but also to Twitch streamers, who turned the game into a viral juggernaut.
But even with that audience, the exclusivity of computers and smartphones still locked a significant number of potential players. It was only a matter of time before the title would move to the other side of the gaming pond – the console.
While PlayStation and Xbox players are still waiting for “Among Us” to land on their devices, Nintendo Switch players were given the opportunity to start playing earlier this month.
At first glance, “Between Us” and Switch look like an obvious couple. Not only does the Switch give you a variety of control options, as well as the opportunity to play it on a large-screen TV, but the Switch has a massive player base – nearly 70 million units sold and counted. It is one of the best selling consoles of all time and the the fastest-selling console of the generation. By almost all metrics, the Switch seems tempting for another megahit.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Although “Among Us” is currently the best-selling digital download title on Switch, this is entirely due to the game’s popularity in the past. It’s true that the Nintendo Switch version of “Between Us” isn’t that good at all.
Players will immediately notice flaws when they try to join the game
When you first run “Between Us” on the Switch, you’ll be greeted by the same minimalist title screen and a list of servers that are in the PC and smartphone version. But even here, the game shows its flaws.
In the time spent playing, the server list repeatedly showed me games on each map except the one I chose. It’s also harder to get into the game before it charges, because selecting a server using the joystick takes more time than just clicking or tapping on it. The game also has an unusual oddity in which you can’t scroll through servers using the joystick – if you go too far down the list, you simply start highlighting things you can’t see on the screen.
Of course, the server screen is only a small part of “Between Us”. What about the tasks, the many mini-games that fill most of your time in the game?
Switch controls make some tasks in the game more enjoyable, while others fail miserably
Tasks are a mixed bag. Some, like using a telescope or cleaning leaves, work amazingly. The rumble characteristics built into Nintendo Switch controllers give many tasks a satisfactory tactile response. Even after doing it almost a dozen times, I am still struck by the strong vibration that comes with throwing garbage out of the air chamber.
Anchored playback also gives you access to motion controls, which come in handy when destroying asteroids or sorting fossils. Tasks that require just one click can be performed faster than ever by pressing the A button. And some tasks, such as entering codes or connecting wires, can be done quickly using the touch screen.
But the touch screen can only be used by removing the switch from the docking station and playing in manual mode. This means that if you want to enjoy the game on a larger screen, you will have to endure a number of tasks for which gamepad controls do not work well.
Connecting the wires means selecting each wire individually with the left rod and then slowly pulling with the right rod, which is tedious. Selecting numbers or buttons to enter codes takes years. And if you thought dragging security cards was boring with the mouse, wait until you try rotating the joystick at exactly the right speed.
Gamepad controls help in other ways though. The ability to open a folder at any time just by holding down the L button is much better than pressing the Tab key or tapping the icon. And walking with a joystick is simply naturally easy.
The conversation is frustrating, which destroys the best feature of the game
The most famous feature of “Between Us” has always been the fast and tense “Emergency Meetings”. If you are charged with murder, it is crucial to give you an alibi as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, talking on the Nintendo Switch doesn’t work at all. When you tap the text box to start typing, a full-screen keyboard will appear – you can’t see what others are saying until you’re done typing. That stops every conversation, because the players ask the same questions over and over again, not knowing that everyone is repeating themselves to each other.
This might be fine if Switch made typing easier. But if you haven’t plugged a USB keyboard into your console, you’ll type using the keyboard on the Switch screen, one of the most inconvenient interfaces.
Depending on the game mode, you can type in three ways: using the navigation key to select letters, which is slow; by means of motion controls, which is imprecise and sloppy; or using a touch screen, which is simply inconvenient.
Yes, playing on a smartphone means that you too will have to type using the touch screen. But unlike my iPhone, I’m not at all used to typing on the Switch screen, which is a little too big for my thumbs to cross comfortably.
And since “Between Us” is a crossplay game – meaning you can play with friends who have a PC or smartphone version of the game – this puts you at an immediate disadvantage. If you can’t type, accuse, or defend yourself as fast as others, it will mean you’ll always be drowned in conversation.
You also cannot turn off chat censorship as is possible in other versions. And for some reason, the censor will sometimes block the names of the actual places in the game – as below, where there were difficulties with my typing the word “Administrator”.
If you want to play the Switch version and type quickly and freely, you will need to purchase a USB keyboard or use Discord chat. And at that point, why not just release the PC version?
Bottom: Follow the smartphone app or computer version
“Between Us” can be an incredibly fun game, and if you’re playing with friends, the Switch version still contains a bit of that magic. I can imagine that if you spend a decent amount of time playing it, you will eventually get used to the whimsical connections of the port.
But it’s less portable than a smartphone app and less intuitive than the PC version. Ultimately, while the most devoted fans of the game might like to have a new way of playing, there’s no denying that the Switch port “Between Us” is worse than any other version.