Title: Among the Sleep
Platform: Steam, Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle, Horror
Players: Single player
Written by Whistler 14th June 2014
Remember the days when you could barely reach the fridge door handle and turning the lights off at night meant you were fair game to any monster under the bed and in the wardrobe; the days before you realized life is a grotesque pantomime and your imagination was a fertile ground full of pirates, dinosaurs and pirate dinosaurs.
Developed by Norwegian developers Krillbite Studios, Among the Sleep brings you back to those nights when you would awake and need to make the larger than life quest to escape your bedroom and find your parent(s) as you play through the eyes of a toddler immediately setting up the stage for a fear on a very primal level.
You start off with a very happy go lucky day as the silent protagonist celebrates his 2nd birthday with his mother, the moment is interrupted with a sudden knock on the door, your mother while seemingly shaken, takes you to your room and leaves you there with a mysterious present. The horror doesn’t start yet as luckily it’s not some sort of deadly monster but is a living teddy bear buddy (though I don’t trust him whatsoever) and all is well; at least until nightfall.
You are flung from your safe place and must now venture out into the darkened hallways of your house where you find Teddy drowning in the washing machine and your mother is missing.
I’ll admit I was actually quite surprised as while the first 30 or so minutes are grounded within your house with some supernatural elements but you will then transition into a more dreamscape world, where your everyday surroundings transformed into twisted psychological visions slowly revealing a deep message portrayed throughout the game. Sadly the majority of the horror loses a fair portion of its strength once you have transitioned into the dream world, it’s still creepy and certainly helps with relaying certain elements especially the puzzles (cause really how varied could the puzzles be if they’re meant to be solved by a toddler and in a normal household). It feels like the developers weren’t sure what angle to take with the Among the Sleep, what starts off as a horror title that capitalizes on very physical and primal fears suddenly transitions into a more fantasy-
A problem the game faces besides the horror feeling diluted slightly, is that ATS while introducing a bunch of mechanics like being able to crawl into tight spaces and throwing items in order to distract chasers is that it never fully utilizes them to create a rich dynamic experience and instead take 2nd place to the plot. Not that story taking precedence is a problem just there are so many moments that could have been enhanced yet the mechanics were underused.
While Among the Sleep doesn’t hit all the high notes for a horror title and is relatively short (which is starting to be my catchphrase for reviewing games these days); it is an impressive title that conveys a rather heartfelt message about a very serious issue through the imaginations of a child’s warped perspective that is certainly a good starting point for Krillbite Studios to launch themselves into their next title.
Strong message and good themes,
Horror doesn’t transition very well in the fantasy environment,
Mechanics are underused.
Among the Sleep lights up the dark with a 7 out of 10.