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- First Class Trouble
Who wants to play a game called First Class Trouble? No one, that’s who. First-class trouble is what happens when a 21-year-old Instagram influencer orders too many vodka Red Bulls on a flight — it’s not the name of a hilarious social deduction game set on a luxury space cruise-liner. But if you, like me, weren’t expecting much from this terribly titled Steam early access game, then I implore you to try out what should rightfully be the Next Big Thing in the vein of Among Us and Fall Guys.
First Class Trouble is an asymmetrical game of teamwork and betrayal from developer Invisible Walls, with its team of six players divided between four Residents and two Personoids. The ultimate goal for the Residents — the regular, human players — is to make their way through the game’s three rounds and shut down the malevolent AI system CAIN that runs the space cruise-liner. The Personoids must do what they can to stop this, making use of their robot abilities such as sabotaging oxygen systems, dropping chandeliers onto unsuspecting players, and using lethal syringes to take down their opponents.
Why First Class Trouble is better than Among Us
At a glance, First Class Trouble is Among Us crossed with Hitman but with the retrofuturistic aesthetic of BioShock. You’ll have the chance to vote off suspicious players at the end of each round, booting them into the vacuum of space in the process, while you can also perform ridiculous kills along the way. I’ve hit players into an open fire with a squash racket. I’ve sent them hurtling to their doom by ejecting them out of an airlock. I’ve strangled them to death while another player has held them down. While Personoids may not have Agent 47’s repertoire of moves, it’s still devilish fun to pull off the perfect murder unbeknownst to other players.
But the Residents aren’t as vulnerable as their equivalents in other social deduction games. Unlike Among Us, where everyone is prey to the imposters until they’re voted out, Residents can put up a fight. Even before you’ve reached each round’s voting stage, it’s possible to kill a suspected Personoid in a number of ways, making players much warier of everyone around them.
If players are convinced you’re behaving suspiciously, from failing skill checks to spending too much time alone, they can team up and take you out regardless of whether or not you’re a Personoid. This adds a unique dynamic to the game, with countless rounds seeing innocent Residents being murdered due to them not adequately arguing their case. As a Resident, I’ve been murdered mid-round simply for giving off a treacherous vibe, while as a Personoid, I’ve convinced others to do the murdering by lying through my teeth.
In Among Us, the lack of proximity voice chat and prevalence of text chat means that the joy of debating your way out of death is often lost. There’s not a lot of fun in typing “red sus” and then watching the red player being booted out of the ship, whereas in First Class Trouble, killing another player is often a heavily deliberated decision. A lone player cannot kill someone else without the help of a syringe, which is exclusive to Personoids, or by pushing them into a deadly obstacle, with two players typically needing to team up to strangle their target. Additionally, two Personoids cannot throttle a Resident, meaning that the bad guys can’t simply wander around offing the good guys at will.
Co-operating with people who could be out to kill you gives each match an edge. With players having to collect three keycards in order to advance to the next round, the occasionally precarious placement of these items leads to a constant awareness of your surroundings. Should you stand close to this fire to put it out, knowing someone could shove you into it? Does this person trying to convince you to go into an airlock really want to help the team, or are they going to slam the door shut and leave you to die?
Whenever I stumbled upon a dead body or a sabotaged piece of equipment, I found myself immediately entering detective mode. I’d round up the players, question them about their whereabouts and who they were nearby, corroborating evidence like an interstellar Sherlock Holmes.
Matters intensify during the third and final round, which is essentially a trust exercise in which two terminals sit on either side of a collapsible bridge. To make it across the bridge, one player must activate the first terminal for players to cross, while another player must activate the second terminal for the initial helper to cross. When you’ve spent two rounds with talkative strangers, you’ll find that the brief bonds you’ve made can be eradicated at this point. While you may have struck up a friendship with ThotPants420, you’re still unlikely to wholeheartedly trust them to let you cross the bridge, and they won’t trust you either. Then after the match is ended, every player alive or dead gets to discuss the events that have transpired, providing you a forum to either express your outrage or celebrate your victory.
While suspicion is rife in First Class Trouble, when a plan comes together for either the Residents or the Personoids it’s immensely satisfying. Gameplay skill isn’t required to progress, with killing players and performing skill checks mostly relegated to a single button press, as you are instead reliant upon your ability to argue or weasel your way out of accusations. Some of the greatest matches I’ve experienced have seen the Personoids working together to sew the seeds of doubt among other players. I’ve been in games where big-brained geniuses have managed to convince all the Residents to kill one another, as they’ve barely had to touch another player to achieve victory.
Of course, there’s also some toxicity given the required voice chat and a lack of a report function to moderate unsavory characters. While I haven’t experienced many glaring issues during my time with the game — aside from the typical batch of Americans pointing out that I’m British before repeatedly asking for a cup of tea — if you’re not particularly fond of being forced to speak to strangers then this likely isn’t the game you.
However, First Class Trouble’s reliance on co-operation among constantly suspicious teammates also helps to stamp out griefing. Sure, you can push someone else into an open fire for no reason whatsoever, but then you’ll have to explain yourself to the wider team. When your victim runs around the map in flames screaming your name, how are you going to justify that to everyone else? That’s a one-way ticket to being jettisoned into the Earth’s orbit.
Is First Class Trouble worth playing right now?
With this being an early access game, there are still kinks that need to be ironed out. I’ve experienced more than a few issues when trying to kill another player, with them occasionally glitching and slipping out of my grasp, while voice chat fails to work properly in some lobbies. It’d also benefit greatly from a dedicated tutorial, with its tutorial located in its pre-game lobby doing a poor job of explaining the game’s rules.
However, the most glaring problem right now is its struggle with its own identity. It uses its sci-fi ’50s design as window dressing, with its personality coming from player interactions rather than the game itself. Its setting is fertile ground for offbeat humor a la Fallout, but it currently feels like a social deduction game that just happens to be set on a space cruise ship in an alternate version of the 1950s. Couple that with its terrible name, and it might be difficult for Invisible Walls to attract newcomers.
Hopefully, enough people hear of First Class Trouble to give it the audience it deserves. It’s currently very easy to find games and matchmaking takes seconds, and I’d like to live in a world where that remains the case long into the future and after it’s exited Steam Early Access. Please play this game so I can carry on playing it, too.
GameRevolution received Steam Early Access code for First Class Trouble from its publisher.