Published on January 28th, 2015 | by Chris Scott2
Among the Sleep: Baby Nightmares and Kickstarter Success
After finishing Wolfenstein: The New Order, I wasn’t up for tackling another long gaming experience. As I sifted through my backlog of 2014 games, looking for what I hoped to be a short and sweet experience, I came across a little horror title I had Kickstarted two years prior, Among the Sleep.
Finally released last year, Among the Sleep is a first person horror adventure. Like many of the other recent first person horror games, Among the Sleep sees the player completely vulnerable. There is no fighting the evil that lurks in the darkness, and hiding is the only option for survival. But what makes Among the Sleep unique to these types of games is that the protagonist is a toddler and the adventure he goes on is through his psyche.
Taking roughly two hours to complete, Among the Sleep sees the toddler (you) start out on his birthday. While eating cake, you hear a knock at the door. Your mother answers the door and has a hushed, yet heated conversation that results in her coming back and giving the player a gift. That gift is a hand-me down teddy bear, and the sight of it brings displeasure to the mother’s face. Alone with the new bear, I see that it has magical abilities, like the fact that it can talk and become a night light of sorts.
Things get weird when you wake up in the middle of the night with the bear missing. You begin to explore the house looking for your mother and the bear. You come across the bear first, unceremoniously tossed into the washing machine. After saving him, the two of you set out looking for your mother. Something is lurking in the darkness, and it is not very nice. Your journey to find your mother takes you to a nightmarish world that holds memories of your mother that you must obtain. These memories are little snippets, like your mother reading you a book, but they are key to you unlocking and ultimately escaping the dark adventure.
To gather these memories you are tasked with doing some simple exploration and puzzle solving while avoiding dark shadowy monsters. None of it, including avoiding the monsters, is particularly difficult, but the game does a great job of creating tension to make you feel like you are constantly in danger. This is done through some fantastic level design, excellent lighting (or the lack thereof), and a phenomenal soundtrack. I was constantly on the edge of my seat as I explored the dark world and unlocked its secrets.
And the secrets are quite dark. Where I initially thought the game’s plot was going wasn’t where it ended up. Magic teddy bears are standard fare for the imaginations of children, but it takes a very damaged psyche to corrupt the imagination in the way that Among the Sleep does. I won’t spoil the secrets here, but I will say that Among the Sleep deals with some very heady issues and its delivery of the story through the eyes of a toddler is quite haunting.
I always find it funny that people complain that there are no new ideas or stories being pushed in video games because games like Among the Sleep prove that isn’t true at all. It’s a really cool game that I am really happy I gave some time. If you are a horror game fan, or just love to see game storytelling evolve, I wholeheartedly recommend playing Among the Sleep.