- Replay Value
Ever wished you could see something terrifying in the eyes of a two year old? Among the Sleep does just that in an amazing blend of horror sight and sound. In Among the Sleep, you play as a two year old toddler on your birthday, enjoying cake and playing with your new teddy bear, your new best friend. Your new friend then leads you into the closet, where you learn about the mechanics of the game, which was an amazing blend of gameplay and storytelling, setting you up for what you are about to experience in the game. All hell breaks loose when you go to bed and wake up watching your Teddy being dragged away from you and then have your crib flipped entirely. After saving your friend from the grips of the evil washing machine, you go on your way to find our mom in the hellish dark world. This is the games main plot thread, a story of finding someone you lost. While this is not the most griping of stories on the surface the fact that you, the player, experience the game through the eyes of a toddler makes it much more compelling. You weave your way through dark worlds, finding memories to unlock the way to your mother through items of importance that are recalled from the introduction to the game. Not to spoil the ending, the game takes an amazing twist to how it ends and deserves to be seen.
The gameplay itself thoroughly immerses you into the world in the eyes of a child. Being two years old, it embraces the age of the character and revolves the gameplay around that mechanic. You cannot open doors by standing at them, forcing you find a chair or a stool to claim up on in order to reach the handle. Having also reached the age where you are just being to walk, crawling for once, is a faster mode of transportation. Even running for an extended period of time inevitably leads to you falling on your face, as your legs are not built to run for long distances. Even the camera is wobbly when walking, as toddlers tend to walk like Frankenstein. While the game also does not outright tell you where you need to go next, it does a great job at hinting at the direction you need to go, often following the dark being that is stalking the world. When exploring as well, there are tons of great, eerie visuals and even locking you from certain areas by spontaneously moving statues or slammed doors, creating the feeling of hopelessness. The size of the character is often noticed as well, as nearly everything in the world is twice your size and seems insurmountable at times, and making you feel like the toddler you are. At the same time, the length of falls you are sure to experience breaks it slightly as this toddler seems to have legs of steel and tear ducts of iron. Your only companion on your journey for your mother is your tried and true Teddy Bear, who offers insight into the world and vocalizes how you are feeling while exploring. Not also is he the only voice through the bulk of the game, he is your only source of comfort. Much like Amnesia, the longer you are in the dark, the creepier the sound gets. But at a simple key stroke, you are able to seek comfort for Teddy, squeezing the living poo out of him, lighting him up I the process. The noises cease and you, as the player, feel a renewed sense of bravery to continue on your childlike quest. All of these things create a gameplay experience that truly immerses you in the world and does a great job at creating the feeling that you truly are a child in a big and scary world. While the puzzles are basic and most of the game is exploring, it is an experience that is worthy of being experienced.
Graphically, this game has its flaws. It looks a lot like Half Life 2 circa 2004. My PC isn’t the top of the line rig and I was able to play it on Masterful graphic settings with no hiccups. There is also the occasional spoon through the character model and somehow cake magically appears on the plate after being cut. There is the occasion screen tear, which can take you out of the experience for a moment. But while is game is not graphically intensive, the lighting shines through it all, realistic shadows are cast and the games use of lighting highlights landmarks of importance. It is sparse and most of the world is a dark and gritty place, creating the feeling that these lights may be a sign of hope. The lighting of Teddy when squeezed is also very well done to not only light up a slight area ahead of you but it also has the glow that many people find comforting.
Sounds play a distinct role in Among the Sleep and this game needs to be played with a good set of headphones. There are many noises that are so quiet and masked by the background ambiance that tension is mounted exponentially. While there are a few “jump scares” as many horror games fall back on these days, this game is terrifying purely by sound and the world. For the bulk of the game, there is nothing actively chasing or hunting you (who would kill a two year old), but you can hear the dark entities in the distance, always making you feel like you are being watched and followed while trying to find your poor mother. When squeezing your adorable companion, he also makes a comforting and satisfying grunt, making you feel much safer by sound as well as lighting. The voice acting, while there is not much, is great and truly sounds like how a mother speaks to her son and the voice of the sophisticated English Teddy Bear is well done. These sound choices make this game are what make it frightening and shape Among the Sleep into a horror classic.
This game suffers from one major downfall and that is its price point. I beat Among the Sleep in a single sit down and logged just over two ours of playing. This game is a very short experience with little replay and is priced at $19.99 on Steam. Among the Sleep came in and left with a bang in a short time and the big thing that will keep players form experiencing this gem is the price. Even at 15 dollars this game would see many more purchases and people would be clambering for more. This game is a must play for all fans of the horror genre as it completely thrust you in its world. Among the Sleep has sealed the fact that Indie developers know and have the ability to craft a truly terrifying experience as they do not have to follow what the brand has set and can take bugger risks for a bigger fear reward. I loved almost every second of the game and I was sad to see it end. I cannot wait for what Krillbite Studios has for us next.