I played through Among the Sleep on PS4, running into no technical issues at all.
Among the Sleep is definitely an intriguing premise – a horror game where you are cast as a 2-year-old infant looking for his mother. It’s actually so good that it’s a wonder no one has done it before. And Among the Sleep fully delivers on the premise…for about twenty minutes before crashing and burning.
At the start of Among the Sleep, you are put into the shoes of a toddler on his birthday. You are sitting in your high chair watching your mum preparing your birthday cake. Soon though, she gets a knock at the door and takes you back to your room with your new present – a teddy bear who, once you’re alone, starts to talk to you. This is creepy in itself, but this teddy is actually your ally through the darkness, as you wake up that night to find your mother missing. It is your task to try and find her.
The game controls well with you staggering around on your stumpy legs. To speed up, you can crawl instead of walking, and instead of a torch, you can hug your teddy to get some extra light. This is really cool, as the game manages to give you all the tools you need and would expect, like the aforementioned torch and a run button. It’s what you need without breaking the world of the game.
And as Among the Sleep begins, the game is great. You have to navigate the first floor of your house and find your teddy, before looking for your mother. You can’t reach high things, like door handles, so you have to find something like a chair or a stool and push it so you can climb up to reach things. Your baby-self seems quite athletic, but it would be frustrating to have any more restriction.
The house is spooky when it’s dark, with a lightning storm outside and shadows looming large. It is genuinely unsettling, especially when you find your teddy has been trapped in the washing machine. It is clear there’s some entity in the house, and it doesn’t want a tea party. It’s all really nice and atmospheric.
But here comes the pain, because Among the Sleep completely ruins itself after 20 minutes, leaving the house behind and thrusting you into a magical world with tedious fetch quests. It’s infuriating when this happens, as the whole idea of being a baby being scared by pseudo-normal things, is completely discarded.
Though the proceeding levels of the game do keep the idea of scale, the realism is lost. The levels are kinda based around locations a baby may be like a playground and a library but the way you travel there is dumb. You basically jump down what looks like a giant trombone and magically appear there.
It’s stupid and ruinous, but maybe it could have been salvaged if Among the Sleep was actually scary during these sequences. But it’s not. At all. In fact, it wasn’t until my second playthrough of the game where I actually found that there is something stalking you. It’s some weird kind of mom-monster that is a strange kind of Slender Man-ish thing. But I didn’t see it my entire first runthrough, which is a problem. Saying that however, even when it catches you, it just throws you back to the last checkpoint.
To be perfectly frank, it’s such a shame to see something with so much promise totally and utterly shit itself.
Among the Sleep capitalises on it’s amazing premise for all of twenty minutes, before caving into a magical world of boring fetch quests and a stalking monster that is neither terrifying or good at making itself known to the player. Among the Sleep is awarded the most reviled of comments for a horror game – it simply isn’t scary.
AMONG THE SLEEP