Imposters in the colorful, murderous world of Among Us are not the only things that are different from how they appear; the entire game is one massive deception, as it actually uses a 3D engine with 2D assets to create the appearance of a 2D game.
Among Us‘ design choice is not unique when compared to other modern 2D games, as most titles now use 3D engines in some way during the development process. For Among Us, developer Inner Sloth mainly used a technique called parallax, wherein objects of varying sizes are placed at different distances from one another. When these objects are then viewed at a certain angle or through a certain lens, the viewer sees a complete and cohesive image including all the assets.
YouTuber Shesez posted a video back in December showcasing a detailed look at the parallax process in action for Among Us. In the video, Shesez manages to break the camera boundaries during many different phases of the game in order to show how the different 2D layers interact with one another to create Inner Sloth’s intended images. It also demonstrates how the developer was able to achieve certain visual effects such as the darkness that surrounds crewmates while they walk around. Members of Inner Sloth made themselves available to Shesez in order to further elaborate on some of their design decisions. The video has recently become popular again after it was posted to Reddit by user wedddealer.
It is fascinating to see how assets that look cohesive through a specific viewpoint are actually drastically different depending on the screen a particular individual is looking at. Clothing, for example, is much farther removed from the crewmate on the character customizer screen than anywhere else shown in Shesez’s video. The showcase also demonstrates just how many elements can be on screen at once with the player only able to see a fraction of them at any given time. A prime example of this would be during the game’s ejection screen.
Many video games, 2D and 3D alike, have hidden design elements throughout their worlds that players can find if they look hard enough, sometimes without even breaking the game. It is a normal part of the game development process, but that said, it is still interesting to see how it all comes together. Among Us proves that it is the sum of a game’s parts that truly make a memorable title and not the parts themselves. Sometimes simplicity is best.