Among the Sleep is a game that grabs you instantly with its concept. The main hero is a two year old toddler whose only friend and safety blanket is a talking teddybear. From the eyes of the child, everything is big and scary, and everyday objects are insurmountable obstacles. Unfortunately even with a solid idea, there is just not enough content here. Not even for a game that is over within a couple of hours.
Baby's grand adventure starts at a birthday party, but soon everything goes wrong somehow. The child awakens in the middle of the night, and the new teddy is nowhere to be found. Luckily he was just spinning in the washing machine, but according to the bear something has gone horribly wrong. They have to find mother. Going through the dark house sends shivers through the spine, and the storm outside doesn't make it any easier. But after this creepy beginning the game gets sidetracked and only finds its way back to this great idea at the very end.
Most of the two hour long journey is spent in worlds mixing reality with fantasy. The trees have drawers, the house has been taken over by nature like in a post-apocalyptic movies, and so on and so forth. Unfortunately none of this is scary and the whole game is built on a couple of basic gameplay ideas.
At the beginning you're exploring a large, dark house, and it feels exciting. As the main character is about as tall as a fire extinquisher, ordinary everyday objects like doors become barriers. As you can't reach the handle on your own, you have to find a way to get there. It turns out that there's a couple of ways of doing this, but it's not long before these two tricks are revealed as the meat of the game. Recycling these two mechanics endlessly eats away a lot of the atmosphere.
Around halfway through we thought the game was just a walking simulator, but luckily there are also some monsters roaming around. We don't think that they are too scary though, or at least they didn't scare us. Maybe we're too desensitised by horror movies and atmospheric games, but most of the time we felt bored. The monsters are mostly lurking in the background, but sometimes they do venture a bit closer. Most of the scenes are scripted, and you can guess what's going to happen. No surprises, no horror. The prologue and epilogue were the most exciting parts of the game in our opinion, and we could have just skipped all the bits in-between.
The PlayStation 4 version of Among the Sleep also features some bugs. The first one is seen right at the beginning, where the teddybear asks you to close your eyes. The game tells you how this is done: "Press [None] to close your eyes". Excuse me? Press what? We had to go through the buttons one by one. Another nasty bug was encountered shortly after. The toddler is fastest while crawling, so we dropped to our belly. Unfortunately the kid went right through the floor and got stuck around 4 inches below it. Time to load the previous save. One time we were stuck to a closet, and again it was time to restart from previous auto-save. How about the time the child stepped on the wrong part of a wooden bridge and got stuck? Can you guess how we solved the problem? We probably encountered around seven bugs during the adventure, including those listed here. It's not a terrible amount, but most of them required starting again from a previous save, and repetition is poison to horror games.
We can't hide the fact that Among the Sleep was a big disappointment. Don't get us wrong, we really like the idea and the story behind the game, but the execution was just not interesting enough. Maybe the developers should have spent more time thinking of interesting new mechanics instead of repeating a couple to death. If you can get the game somewhere at a knockdown price, then it's an okay choice to pick up to see what it's about. But with the current price tag it's just grossly overpriced.