IntroductionAmong The Sleep is a first-person survival horror game developed by Krillbite Studios. The game has received several awards since PC launch, but most recently MOMOCON Indie Game Awards - 2015 'Best Game,' and PLAY15 - 2015 'Most Creative Game.' Step into the tiny pajamas of your 2-year-old protagonist, explore the darkness of a world bordering reality and adolescent nightmare. You'll need to survive the darkness and the creatures lurking within as well as solve puzzles standing in your way as the story progresses. Previously released for PCs in 2014, the game is finally making its appearance on the console.
You can buy it on PlayStation Network or Xbox Marketplace or Steam for $14.99.
StoryThe story is simple at first and somewhat linear with many of the twists being answered as you further progress through each level. It finishes open-ended, though, leaving some aspects up for interpretation by the player. It jumps off when you awaken one night to an empty and dark house. In short, the mother has disappeared, and with the help of your stuffed bear named Teddy you embark on a journey to discover answers.
During the day of your second birthday, after a shortcake celebration with the mother in the kitchen, a stranger comes to the door. This later is subtly explained to be the boy's father, who has been divorced and excluded from the child and his mother's life. He brings a gift in a box, which later turns out to be Teddy. A short trip to the toddler's bedroom on his mother's shoulder allows some alone time to associate with Teddy himself. He sounds as psychotic and creepy as any character in a video game has ever been (he looks roughed up a bit too) but will offer helpful guidance throughout the game.
During the night, the weird events begin to really happen. An unseen force kidnaps Teddy, drags your crib across the room, and proceeds by throwing you onto the floor. Traversing the dark and eerie house will be your first of many environments in the game, where you ultimately search for the memories that will explain where your mother has gone. There are four memories in total but several environments, each one connecting a specific item to the mother (her necklace, a musical box, a storybook, and a pink elephant), all of which are foreshadowed throughout the introduction. I don't want to give much more of the story away as it is fairly short in overall length. It makes for a memorable story experience all the way through and is definitely worth a play through at least once.
Controls and GameplayControls are simple to remember. The secondary triggers on the back allow you to lean right or left in order to peak around corners while the buttons above them will be used to grab objects or open/close drawers and doors. The movements in the game are walking (with an option to sprint) and, of course, crawling. Sometimes you'll need to crawl under a table or tunnel to explore further, and the game also suggests in the beginning that crawling is quicker than running. When in a dark space, pressing one of the interface buttons on the controller will make the character hug Teddy, causing him to glow, which producing light to help navigate the nearby area.
The protagonist is a 2-year-old child, so he is not supposed to have perfect motor skills yet, and this will somewhat show in overall movements. He will sometimes be a little wobbly while moving. Actions such as climbing, opening drawers and doors all perform as you would expect an infant to actual do them. You must climb on counters and chairs in order to reach door handles that would otherwise be too high up to reach. The clunky feeling of playing as the toddler was weird at first, but it never detracted me from the game and, in fact, probably helped the immersion. Overall, I felt I had near perfect control of movements at all times with a smooth gameplay.
Sound and GraphicsRemembering how your mind processed things at 2 years old is extremely difficult if not impossible. Over time we naturally rationalized in our brains what one memory probably was truly like in reality, and not how our innocently- infant minds perceived during the moments, ultimately changing our memory altogether. At that age, children don't have the basic understanding of physics and depths throughout the world, so imagine how scary the unknown is. The developers delivered on this concept beautifully.
The world is abstract in environmental design but also slowly builds into this as to not destroy any progressive immersion. The game is intended to keep a constant feeling of fear, anxiety, and helplessness rather than periodic jump scares. This is held consistent due to the creepy sounds of movements just out of visual distance around you, objects rolling across floors, doors shutting and opening, and footsteps of whatever is stalking for you. Audio will let you know when you should probably run, hide, or investigate something if Teddy doesn't already offer his suggestion. The sound is probably the most immersive part of this game.
ConclusionThe game captures a truly unique aspect of life that we all have experienced, but very few if any actually remember. It's relatable and abstract design of the game is realistically understandable when putting it into perspective of a small infant just barely able to walk. It's eerie to play and immersive in every expected way, such as sound and visuals. The gameplay is smooth and the environments are rich, and is a one of a kind game. It's refreshing to experience something different than controlling a middle-aged protagonist through their respected campaigns of quests and objectives. Although not 100 percent comparable, you'll find many similarities to games such as Layers of Fear, Outlast, and The Park, but this game is its own concept of a scary setting.
|+ Immersive environment and sounds||- Short Story|
|+ Unique infant protagonist||- Debatably little replay value|
|+ Smooth gameplay|
|+ Scary and suspenseful|