Written by sPINDRAFT
There is something just a little bit creepy about crawling around an empty house in the middle of the night as a two year old with your companion teddy bear, after you rescue him from the washing machine that is – or was that a dryer (he looked a bit wet and wrinkly when he came out). The visual atmosphere is creepy as well with its washed out, soft colorization which really enhances the drowsy, somewhere between a bad dream and a nightmare feel of juniors little world. This is ‘Among The Sleep’ the new angle on horror gaming being offered up by Krillbite Studios of Hamar, Norway. The game is currently in its Alpha phase and by the grace of the gaming gods has been made available for our scrutiny and feedback during the completion of its developmental period (would be cool if more games did this). You can find the Kickstarter page here
Have I mentioned that this game is just plain creepy and not just for the reasons named above. The house is dark, it is storming outside, some-THING has kidnapped teddy and was trying to take you (crib and all) and wow, the mood here is not conducive to tranquility at all. You hear your mother’s voice at the very beginning talking gently to you about an old bedtime tune which she then begins to hum which only adds to the overall creepiness in your cloud filled bedroom, I mean it sounds like some religious cult music in this setting (you will here this tune periodically as you play the alpha).
There does not appear to be any real danger in the alpha version of ‘Among The Sleep’ but the sounds during your first playthrough will have you hiding, jumping, peeking around corners and just plain wondering what the hell is going to materialize out of the shadows. Krillbite has done a very good job of conveying the idea of being caught somewhere between reality and a dream, suggesting the possible angles from which the game will attack your senses, giving you glimpses of it’s darker side and it does this all without once giving you any solid visual spoilers what-so-ever.
They have shown you the mastery and direction of this unique game without creating any truth as to what will actually happen when you come back to play the full release. You have an idea but can you really say what that dark, evil looking shadow in the living room is really going to do when its all so very much for real and what about the detailed audio hints that there is something or some-IT just one step ahead of you the whole time as if you are being led deeper into some horrible nightmare with no way back to your happy little room upstairs in mommy’s house.
Object interaction has been given some good, constructive thought as well. The typical grab and throw options are here as is moving or manipulating items, furniture, etc in order to manuever through the game world you are presented with but what makes it all so beautiful is that the designers really took the perspective of a small two year old child in a grown up’s world into consideration. You are small here and must make the necessary adjustments to overcome this fact, it is not overdone here in the alpha but just like the other details presented thus far I believe that Krillbite has once again successfully demonstrated the potential for great gameplay without giving away too much and spoiling the upcoming complete version.
Eventually you come across a watery looking portal which takes you directly to the fine edge where dreams and nightmares converge but as we timidly enter into this new landscape we are once again left with only the impressions of what could possibly go wrong now, Krillbite is not giving up the whole ghost, just the sheet, and they have tauntingly teased our imaginations to the twisting point.
Looking into the chasm with its spires topped with ghostly swingsets I am reminded of the nightmarish images from that old classic ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ and this does not make me want to enter that cute little cottage one damn bit but alas there is no other option. Junior bravely throws teddy through the open window and the door is opened, what horrors await our young impressionable minds here only time will tell because Krillbite is not giving up its best secrets just yet. Didn’t they always say not to go into the light in all the classic horror flicks? Ah well, we must, and for your bravery you will be given a video tour of some of the fantastic dream scapes that await us, Junior that is, in what looks to be one of the more original horror gaming ideas to come along in quite some time.
Among The Sleep Alpha A+
Krillbite Studios A+