Among the Sleep Review – Hush Little Baby (PS4)
Among the Sleep is a Kickstarter-backed first-person horror game from Norwegian developer Krillbite Studio. It’s unique in that you play as a two-year-old toddler, who’s grappling with what appear to be terrible nightmares. We’ve played through the game, and have a review ready for you.
When you’re first thrown into the game, it’s your second birthday! Your mother is seated at the table with you, and brings a cake. Your birthday party is interrupted by a knock at the front door, and what sounds like an argument between your mother and some male voice. Before you know it, you’re up in your room, and left to your own devices as your mother is easily distracted. Enter a walking, talking teddy bear, who prefers to go by the name Teddy. Nothing strange about that at all…
Since you’re playing as a toddler, your mobility is purposefully restricted. Walking is slower than crawling, for instance, and running for too long will cause you to eventually fall over. Most levels consist of opening drawers or moving chairs, boxes or other objects in order to reach a higher area, usually to unlock a door. The most complicated puzzles involve throwing an object at an empty alcohol bottle, knocking it over and revealing something that you need in order to progress.
Not Trying Hard Enough
In case you were wondering, yes, alcohol plays a central role in Among the Sleep‘s story. This has been done before, to heart-wrenching effect in games such as Papo & Yo. The subject matter is depressing, but here the story is not nearly as heartfelt. This is due chiefly to the fact that your enemy is never your friend. In Papo & Yo, for example, the main character Quico teamed up with Monster, who would be very helpful one moment, and then raging mad the next after he ate a frog. In Among the Sleep, there is no such contrast to your relationship with the monster – the monster simply finds you and resets your progress if she ever catches you. So when the story comes to its rather predictable ending, you likely won’t feel sorry for your alcoholic mom, because she hasn’t helped you at all throughout your nightmares, but rather has played a central role in them.
As for the technical aspects of Among the Sleep, everything is rather ho-hum. Given that this is an indie title, it’s reasonable to see the Unity engine being utilized here. However, we are playing on the PlayStation 4, and console gamers expect graphics of a certain minimum caliber. Among the Sleep has rather mediocre textures, though this ensures a mostly consistent frame rate. Audio appears to be only in stereo, and there are a lot of obviously looping sound and music tracks. This is more or less what you’d expect on a smaller-budget title. Nothing to write home about presentation-wise, but then nothing to offend the senses with, either.
Bit of a Lightweight
For $15, there’s a certain amount of content that is to be expected in any game. Among the Sleep does not really satisfy in that regard. While not as bad of an offender as Yorbie: Episode One (though, really, what could be worse?!), Among the Sleep can be completed easily in one sitting, with a playtime hovering around the two hour mark. There is a small bit of replayability in collecting all the paintings strewn throughout the environment, but there is little incentive to go back once you’ve completed the story. There’s a prologue chapter that attempts to flesh out the story a little more, however it uses different progression mechanics that make the whole scenario feel as though you’re playing an earlier conceptual version of the game.
Among the Sleep would be a good buy at $9.99 or under. As it stands now, $14.99 is a bit too steep a price to ask for a game that is very short, and not particularly emotionally investing. A game that deals with alcoholic parents is supposed to get you to care about all the people affected by one person’s addiction, but Among the Sleep ignores that, instead opting to be yet another game where you’re defenseless against the enemy and must run and high whenever you’re found. Between the average presentation, short play time, and predictable story, Among the Sleep is a game best purchased on sale, and is, perhaps ironically, only recommended for horror game junkies.
Review code for Among the Sleep provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.