Among the Sleep is a survival horror game developed by Krillbite Studios in which you play as a toddler on the frantic search for his mother, with only his trusty teddy as company and support.
- Playing as a toddler is an interesting perspective.
- Simple, yet effective plot.
- Atrocious voice acting.
- Strangely silent protagonist.
- Repetitive gameplay.
- Not scary.
When I first heard of this game, I was interested in a horror game from a toddler’s perspective. The thought of jumping at shadows and everything seeming scarier than it actually was and the idea of pure innocence meeting danger were extremely attractive. The more I saw of it with the first footage shown, the more I wanted to play it. Well, thanks to Steam Sales, I managed to finally get my hands on it.
When the game opens, you control the baby in his seat in the kitchen, looking at Mon doing stuff and dote on you. But then someone’s at the door and Mom has a heated argument and shuts the door in their face. The next scene has us in the baby’s room and playground and we’re introduced to Teddy, our trusted companion, who takes us through the obligatory tutorial and shows us how he can help. By pressing a button, you hug him and he shines, illuminating the area around and calming the toddler down.
The baby controls pretty well, from the slow and clumsy walk standing up to the almost dashing crawl. The mouse handles the camera and the interaction, and like most physics-based puzzles, you need to pull or push on the mouse to open or move things.
The gameplay itself is a mixed bag. While the toddler perspective is pretty interesting, crawling on the ground or wobbling around, the ‘levels’ are extremely repetitive. They all revolve around finding keys of one design or another and avoiding the chapter’s monster (and none of them can apparently look under a table), and there aren’t any interesting puzzles. It’s fair to say the puzzle difficulty is enough for a baby to solve them.
Voice acting is terrible, there’s no way to say it nicely. When the mother talks to you, it’s as if she’s talking to a brick. There’s no emotion whatsoever in her voice. While it kinda fits with the overall plot/theme of the game, it fails to sell you the mother as someone you should care about, which should be the most important thing about this game. If you don’t care about Mom, it compromises what little immersion there is with the baby. Speaking of the toddler, he’s very quiet. No blabbering, no cooing and not even a few tears when the bad things come your way; at most you’ll hear him breathe in when you climb things. It kills all immersion since you’re no longer in a baby’s shoes but behind a lifeless avatar. The only decent voice acting comes from the Teddy.
The plot revolves around going through the different levels and finding mementos of your relationship with Mom, in order to open a door that’ll take you to her. While it’s extremely simple, how it all plays together in the end is quite good.
Visually, the environments are interesting and manage to make everyday objects and locations seem gloomy and creepy, and very atmospheric. But on the flipside, the character models are terrible and the monsters are just not scary. I understand the creatures are mostly symbolic and they’re supposed to be scary for a toddler, but the problem is I’m not a baby, so they didn’t scare me even a bit.
Ultimately, that’s the game’s biggest flaw: it’s not scary, and that’s a big flaw for a horror game. In my case, the game lost me almost immediately once I realized something: nothing bad will ever happen to the baby. Developers in general are very careful with how they handle children in games and once you realize they won’t do anything to harm the toddler, all possible tension evaporates. Without audio cues from the baby about his well-being, the monsters’ appearances depend exclusively on their roars, and it’s not enough, nor is the distorted visual effect on the camera. You need to care for your avatar for you to be scared and even if it’s a toddler, I didn’t give a damn about him.
The Mental Attic Score: Wait for a Sale. As interesting as the story is, the game is too flawed to be worth it. Get it on a very heavy discount.