It’s hard to know how big an effect a parent’s actions can have on children, until certain mannerisms start to materialise in that child’s behaviour. In Among the Sleep, you’ll be confronted by such scenes that might bring a tear to the eye of parents who play through. I’m not a parent myself, but at the end I couldn’t help staring at the screen in bewilderment of what I had just played through. Read more in our Among the Sleep review below.
Platform Used For Among the Sleep Review: Gigabyte P35, Intel i7-4720HQ 2.60GHz, 16GB Ram, GeForce GT 965M
Developer: Krillbite Studio
Genre: Action, Adventure, Psychological Horror, Indie
Recommended If You Liked: Outlast, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Slender
Having just finished watching the film “Room”, I was reminded just how much an adult’s behaviour can impact the lives of their children. Among the Sleep touches on quite a lot of issues that parents face, but more importantly, it takes you on a two-year old toddlers journey through a world of imagination that depicts just how different a child’s perception of their surroundings is.
There is so much about Among the Sleep’s story that I’d love to talk about, but unfortunately that would involve spoiling the majority of the game. I’m going to do my best to touch upon certain aspects without potentially ruining the experience of those who are yet to play it.
The beginning of Among the Sleep starts with the toddling protagonist downing a glass of drink. Because of the way you are first seeing the world through the rounded walls of a drinking glass, my first impression was that I might be witnessing a birth scene. But as I moved my mouse around, more and more of the world became visible. Eventually I was left looking at the beaming face of the toddler’s mother. It was the two-year old’s birthday and the mother was preparing a cake.
As you wait for the cake to be presented to you, you’re given the opportunity to look around the kitchen, and even play with an abacus. Finally mother comes back with the cake and cuts a slice for mister toddler to eat. Unfortunately, before we got to sink our teeth into this tasty looking cake, we were interrupted by a knock at the door of the toddler’s house.
Here’s where the strangeness begins. Distortion lines start to appear around everything and the sound becomes muted. A growing feeling of unease pierces the atmosphere. Just as you’re starting to think you’ve fallen into a scene from Paranormal Activity, the distortion dissipates when you hear the mother shout “NO!”, and slam the door.
Back she comes with a present in her hands and a face conveniently disguised with a big smile. But before you’re allowed to open it, she picks you up and takes you and the present upstairs. You get placed in a playpen and the present is set down upon a chest of drawers. When the mother leaves the room, you gain control of the toddler.
The usual ‘WASD’ keys control your movement while the mouse is used to look around. Also, ‘left-click’ allows you to interact with objects. Obviously toddlers aren’t known for their jumping prowess, so instead of jump, the ‘space-bar’ allows you climb onto platforms such as chairs and open drawers. Holding ‘shift’ lets you sprint for a short period of time, but instead of being presented with a stamina gauge, you’ll simply fall over when you can no longer keep up the pace. The ‘control’ key drops you to the floor and allows you to crawl through narrow nooks and crannies.
Eventually you come across Teddy. A loveable soft toy who accompanies you on your adventure. In the toddler’s mind, Teddy can talk, and informs you that by pressing ‘F’ to cuddle him, you’ll feel safer. What he really means is that he’ll light up and allow you to see in really dark places. To be honest, I was constantly pressing ‘F’ because it gets quite creepy in the dark… Not only is Teddy a provider of light, but he also acts as a guide to the toddler.
The gameplay in Among the Sleep mainly consists of solving puzzles. Each puzzle rewards you with a memory that’s required for progressing to the next area of the game. The puzzles are relatively simple and won’t require a lot of thinking to solve, but the journey involved in solving each puzzle takes you through some incredibly imaginative environments; from dark, creepy playgrounds, to mazes of bookshelves haunted by a tall, crazy-haired, lurching monster.
Speaking of monsters, you’re not going to find as many of them out in the dark as you believed you would as a child. However, in later areas of the game, the tall monsters will appear more frequently. If they catch you, you’ll be in trouble and have to start again from a previous checkpoint. Thankfully the checkpoints come around often, and you won’t be replaying certain parts of puzzles over and over.