Among the Sleep – through the eyes of a baby

Gare – Saturday, October 26, 2013 11:39 PM
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The Norwegian team of Krillbite Studio aims to inject an unexpected twist into the world of horror games: in their first project, titled Among the Sleep, they put players in the baby-sized shoes of a two-year-old waking up in the dead of night to investigate the strange occurrences that plague his home. And so he begins an adventure that will no doubt blur the line between reality and the waking dream.

Among the Sleep wants players to rediscover what it felt like to see the world through the eyes of a mere child: finding boogeymen under every bed and seeing invisible monsters in every shadowy corner. And so, the focus shifts to the power of a child's imagination and creativity, lending the game a highly atmospheric, near-nightmarish quality. After Krillbite's successful Kickstarter campaign, plans have also been made to implement both Oculus Rift support and a series of „making-of” commentaries into the final game.

A completely playable alpha build of Among the Sleep has also been made public by the developers, giving players a brief introduction into the world of childhood nightmares. Although a 20-minute demo hardly provides ample time to be able to judge a game, never once did I feel like during my time with the alpha build that Among the Sleep would be shooting for something truly extraordinary with its premise. Giving control over a toddler is, I feel, a double-edged sword of a decision. No doubt a 2-year-old protagonist will garner a certain level of attention; and yet, from a gameplay perspective, it could very well be a creative dead end of sorts. The demo allows us to build a makeshift staircase out of pulled-out drawers or push a chair towards the base of a door to be able to reach its handle, which is all perfectly fine for starters. However, one has to wonder if AtS's toddler-gameplay can manage to come forward with more than just a series of semi-clever, but ultimately forgettable gimmicks.

The horror element is, unfortunately, dependent on tired clichés: a suspicious shadow here, a sudden creak there; in the end, only the supernatural portal between the real world and the nightmarish fantasy land -appearing at the end of the demo-managed to show glimpses of the creative sparkle that would be needed to awe critics and gamers alike.

While there is no set release date yet, Krillbite plans to release Among the Sleep before the year is out. One can only hope that it will deliver what it needs to be able to succeed.

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