Among the Sleep marks the first full-sized title from Norwegian developer Krillbite Studio. While it released on PC last May, the title has finally worked its way over to Sony's marquee machine. A first-person horror game, the title brings with it a very interesting perspective: you assume the role of a toddler – footie pyjamas and all. This allows for a very interesting perspective of the world, where everyday normal items can fuel the nightmares of your imagination. And it works quite well – at first, anyway.
The game starts with you celebrating your birthday alongside your mother, who is seemingly divorced or at least separated. After eating some cake, a knock is heard at the door, with someone bringing over a present for you. This present is a stuffed bear, which will talk to you, and guide you through the environments that are yet to come. Later that night, you're forcibly ejected from your crib, and alongside your bear friend, you begin to seek your mother.
This is where the creativity of the developer's environments begin to shine. As you're a child, everything from a door to the refrigerator can come off as ominous, and the studio does an impressive job of painting just about everything in an intimidating light. The groans of the fridge, the chug of the washing machine, the creak of the stairs – everything is far bigger and scarier than you'd like it to be.
Sadly, while the first stage keeps things grounded, the remaining three chapters in the game serve up more surreal environments. While this makes sense for the narrative – the creative mind of a child and all that – the world ultimately feels much less interesting. We were enamoured by the idea of a toddler exploring an everyday household, but the bulk of the game is spent in a fairly generic forest area, which could stem from almost any release.
At least there are a couple of interesting puzzles during this sequence. One in particular requires you to collect a certain number of objects, so as to use a seesaw to reach a treehouse. But there's simply not enough of this, as more often than not, you'll be clumsily pushing a chair to a door to reach a handle, or opening drawers to clamber atop a dresser. There's not enough variety or finesse in the tasks that you'll be asked to complete, and as such, things get stale towards the end of the title's two or so hour runtime.
If that wasn't bad enough, the game doesn't exactly run well either. Framerate drops, for starters, can be so severe that the title becomes temporarily unplayable, while the poor animations and voice work don't do the presentation any favours either. The voice work becomes especially problematic towards the end of the game, because the narrative's deeper meaning goes to some dark places.
And just when it seems like those aspects are going to be explored, it all abruptly ends. There is a bonus chapter that came about thanks to the game's successful Kickstarter campaign, but sadly said sequence is a prequel to the rest of the story. It is worth playing, however, as it delivers more of what we wanted from the foray in the first place: everyday environments from the perspective of a curious youngster.
Among the Sleep has some incredible ideas, but its execution is simply not strong enough to stir you from your slumber. The game squanders its impressive opening by spending too much time in generic environments, and the puzzles lack the imagination needed to keep you awake. The narrative goes to some nightmarish places, but it ends all too abruptly, and technical issues apply the sleeping cap to an already mixed release.
I've been really looking forward to this game since it was announced as a PS4 title (and not just PC). This is seriously a bummer. Games like this can go either way--they see the concept through, or they fall into generic forest-land. Ahh well. Thanks for saving me some cash! If it ever drops to five bucks or something I'll grab it.
Thanks for the write up!
Looks cool I can say that.
Shame, guess I'll wait till its bargain bin or PS +
ahhh man i was SO looking forward to this since i first heard about it. wonder what would cause them to stop trying and just go the generic route. sad. oh well. would be nice if someone came along and used the same premise to great affect. its such a cool concept, hurts to think that it was wasted and we probably aont see a game like this again. Saaaad
@glassmusic @Gmork___ That's how I felt back before it released on PC, and then I played it on PC, and well, it's the same as the PS4 one really There are some seriously awesome ideas nestled in this game, but there's a heck of a lot of mediocrity around it!
@gbanas92 Is it worth a try or is it that terrible? I had a few games that where terrible in the review but I still liked them.
@Flaming_Kaiser It's by no means the worst game ever haha. There are aspects of it that are really excellent, but I don't know that I'd recommend it at it's current price point. It does have a slight discount through PS+ right now but I think I'd still wait even further. It would be worth it eventually though!
I was wondering if it was any good,dang.
I don't know why but the game looks somehow downgraded compared to the demo. Because before, the graphics were very dark, along with the lightning, and at first, the teddy bear had a very deep voice, which in my opinion, made it very cool (and by cool I meant badass). But it seems that they gave it instead a wimpier voice which I understand why since it's a teddy bear but I prefer more the demo version than the full game.
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