Among the Sleep is a first person horror adventure game. This fact alone might not sound particularly unique in a medium where first person horror games are in abundance. There is no denying that it can be tough to stand out from the pack but Among the Sleep manages to do this by putting you in the shoes of a stumbling two year old child.
The story begins as a toddler is having his birthday celebration at his home with his mother. The celebration is interrupted by a visitor at the front door who is hidden from the player. The conversation is muffled and partly kept from the player as the mother raises her voice, refusing the persons request to see the child. The mother’s angry tone frightens the toddler, whose fear is presented as blurred vision. Quickly, the mother returns with a gift, but the mother doesn’t tell who the gift is from. Instead, she carries the child and gift upstairs to the child’s room, a place of bright, warm colours and streaming sunlight.
Before the present is given to the child, the telephone rings, and the mother leaves her baby in the bedroom to play alone. The gift is revealed to be a sentient teddy bear that climbs out of the box and hides in the chest until the child finds him.
After being introduced to the basic mechanics of the game, it is time for the baby to sleep. The baby wakes in the night to find Teddy being taken by an unseen force. Their crib becomes overturned, and the player escapes. The child leaves the bedroom and rescues Teddy, the bear grunts that ‘something is not right’, and that they need to find mother.
The search leads them to a small cabin that acts as a sort of gateway on a journey through several surreal environments. Teddy instructs the player to find four memories the child shared with their mother that will take them to her.
I’ve been aware of this game for quite some time and have been eager to try it out for myself so what did I think?
Among the Sleep is extremely imaginative. It manages to do a wonderful job of capturing the colourful imagination and fears of a young child. There is a moment when you’re simply making your way through a darkened closet full of huge coats. The game manages to make this feel quite sinister. Through the atmosphere that it creates, you put yourself in the mind-set of a child, it made me think back about the mundane things that I once found scary.
The problem was that this feeling only lasted a very short amount of time and then I was left with something that isn’t very scary at all. Other than a couple of moments, I never really felt any sense of dread throughout my time with the game. There are ways to die but it’s very hard to do so, there is little danger. Once I realised that there were certain sections that I simply couldn’t fail, it made it feel quite mundane.
Most players could easily make it through the entire game without a simple death or retry with minimal effort.
I feel the game isn’t attempting to challenge players but instead focus more on simply telling a story. I’m all for telling a story as a priority but this is supposed to be a horror game. For me it utterly fails in the scares department. Still, the true horrific nature of the game is revealed through the story itself and it’s quite the reveal indeed.
my biggest criticism has to be targeted directly at the length of the game. To say it is short would be a major understatement. I haven’t tested this myself but I do believe you could easily finish it in under an hour. That’s if you didn’t bother with the tacked on collectibles. As long as it is bought for a cheap price, you do get the feeling that the game doesn’t overstay its welcome.
The environments have clearly been lovingly crafted with small details littered throughout. These act as clues or metaphors to the story.
Among the Sleep is worth playing for its imaginative world & dark story. I cannot deny that it is undeniably unique and stays with you once the credits roll. It’s not a regular horror game littered with tropes associated with the genre, which is refreshing. Still, I didn’t find it scary in the slightest and felt it lacked any real sense of dread or danger. I just couldn’t rate it higher due to this and its simply ridiculous length.
Among the Sleep