The nightmares of your childhood hit with a dose of reality.
Among the Sleep first came out back in 2014 after being successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign. During 2015 Krillbite Studios, the makers of the title, announced a PS4 release for December 2015, and just recently the game made its way to the Xbox one as well. Unfortunately at time of review the game is yet to hit the Xbox Marketplace on the Australian store, although Krillbite is hoping for it to reach our shores sometime this month.
Among the Sleep sees you starting out as a precocious little tyke in his/her high chair, your Mother brings over a birthday cake so you can celebrate your second birthday. Shortly after a present arrives for you in the form of a Teddy Bear who has the ability to talk to you and who also serves as your guide through the game world. Later that night you are awoken, your teddy is gone and there are noises in the house. Once your find your Teddy it’s time to find your Mother. What follows is an exceptional look at the world through an infant's eyes. Remember seeing that coat rack in the hallway and thinking it was a person growing up? Yup, it's that kind of terror everyone can relate to because every kid has experienced it at some point in their life.
Graphically the game is fine and suits the art style and the nightmarish landscape it competently creates. However I kept finding that with puzzle elements within the game they became more of a hindrance than anything else. Where to go and what to do next, while simple to work out due to the art style and direction it was somewhat difficult to figure out. With Teddy on your back you would hope that he may speak up and offer advice from time to time but generally he is just there to provide a small glow when you hug him (just like in real life). Which leads me to my next point, Teddy feels like a wasted chance at a unique gameplay mechanic. In later levels the monster that is chasing you through the worlds can sneak up on you but all you have to do is get around a corner or crawl under an object to be our of the monsters reach, no need to hug your Teddy to stop feeling scared, mostly I just used him to light the world around me so i could see where I was going. There was one instance in my play through where I had immense panic as the monster had me trapped. It didn’t make sense as he was right in front of me and I had zero options for survival, nowhere to go or hide. Other gripes I encountered saw myself get caught on the games geometry while attempting to solve the puzzles.
The positive thing about Among the Sleep, is that it does an excellent job of making you feel scared. Turn the lights out, chuck on a pair of good headphones and be prepared for a few jumps. Sound design in this game is incredible, the atmosphere created from the outset coupled with the sound to warn you of impending danger is great. Like I said have a good pair of headphones on and be prepared for a few great jump scare moments. It’s really what this game excels at.
Without giving too much away the game's final moments really do pull on the heartstrings a bit when you realize what exactly had been going on all night long anyway. It's a pretty confronting reality and the game tackles a tricky subject matter with care.
Now with the game out on multiple platforms and in the hands of gamers, I’m looking forward to what Krillbite come up with next.
3.5 out 5
+ Excellent Premise
+ Brilliant Sound Design
+ Good Scary Atmosphere
- Glitchy Environment
- Poor Use of Teddy Bear Mechanic
- Lack of Environmental Direction
AMONG THE SLEEP WAS REVIEWED USING A "RETAIL" PLAYSTATION 4 DOWNLOAD KEY PROVIDED BY SOEDESCO.