Among The Sleep: Enhanced Edition

An Indie Experience With A Lot Of Heart.

“Among The Sleep” by developer Krillbite Studio appears to be a first person survival horror game at first glance. But for me, it was fifty percent adventure, twenty percent light puzzle solving and thirty percent survival. The game is creepy indeed, but it never exactly reached the point of true “survival horror” (with the exception of one or two jump scares), which is not a bad thing. Instead, I’d like to think of Among The Sleep as an eerie, artistic and thought-provoking package that will stick with you for a long time, even if you don’t feel the need to replay it.

You assume the role of a toddler celebrating your birthday with your mother. You eat cake, mom is delightful, and she gives you a teddy bear as a gift, who later comes to life and befriends you with his warm personality. But you soon realize that things are not as pleasant as they seem. Your mother isn’t as happy as she pretends to be. Something isn’t right. Soon, an uneasy feeling of tension fills the air, and develops into a surreal nightmare that encompasses your reality.

You have no means of defending yourself. Luckily you have your teddy bear to accompany you as you traverse deeper into the hellish world that once was your home. Teddy not only gives you friendly advice from time to time, he also serves as a dim light source when you hold him in your arms by pressing the Y button. You’ll need to do this often, as the environments can be extremely dark.

In the first hour or so, the game might feel a bit like a walking (or crawling) simulator with some slight puzzle elements. You are small compared to everything around you. You crawl faster than you can walk, and you can only run for so long before you fall, as toddlers often do. So to navigate the world, you’ll have to use the R button to drag objects around, or use the L button to throw things, in order to help you traverse obstacles and reach your next destination.

On your journey, you are haunted by chilling music and disturbing ambient sounds that will make your skin crawl. Later on, when you encounter horrid unstoppable monsters and have to evade them, the sound and music will play an even bigger role, as it serves to build the tension while you are being hunted. The monsters’ footsteps, breath and other unworldly noises become louder the closer they are to you, and if you hear a dreadful uproarious rumble, you’ll know that the monster is close on your tail, and you’d better find a room to take shelter in, or furniture to hide under, fast.

Though the visuals are a mixed bag, often resembling late PS2 or early PS3 graphics, it does convey a grungy, nightmare world with a touch of child-like charm. In that sense, the lack of graphical prowess almost feels stylish and intentional.

One minor problem I had, was the fact that in many places, the lighting was too dark. Teddy only illuminated a small amount of light, and when I crawled to avoid the monsters, Teddy’s light would disappear, as he could only be used while standing upright. This led to a lot of moments where I couldn’t see where I was going or where the monster was at. The gamma could be adjusted in the options menu, but turning it up past a certain point only made the black colors look blue and washed out.

Your journey is a short one, only lasting about two and a half to three hours in total. However, it is a road filled with symbolism, metaphors and nuances. Much of the story is told by the environment around you; a kid’s chalk drawing, certain objects that keep appearing, the way familiar places deteriorate over time and fall victim to chaos, they all have a story to tell provided you have the patience to observe and learn.

If there is one thing I’d change about the story, it would be to make the ending a bit more conclusive. Just when all the mysteries seemingly began to unravel, there was a bright light and the credits started to roll. At that moment, I was disappointed that it ended so abruptly, because I wanted more. But perhaps that is just a characteristic of a good game. Maybe the ending was intentionally left open for interpretation.

Among The Sleep is a budget indie title that was made with a lot of heart. The graphics might not be top-tier, there are some rough spots here and there, and the game is easily short enough to be completed in one sitting. But what’s there is a work of art and poetry. The experience conveys so much in such a short amount of time. It’s a game that will make you think back on it long after it’s been completed. Don’t be among those who chose to sleep on this excellent gem.

Among The Sleep gets a rating of 9/10.

Special thanks to Innocentia Putri from Soedesco Publishing for the review code.


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