submit to reddit
Pin it
Among the Sleep - title

Among the Sleep - cover art

In a Nutshell

  • Gameplay: 40
    Mechanics are under-developed, it is un-challenging, and it struggles with pacing.

  • Visuals: 75
    The surreal landscapes are pretty, but not as effective as the more realistic, child's-view rooms and hallways at the start of the game.

  • Audio: 75
    Sound design might have been more effective if the gameplay was better. Pitter-patter of the character's feet and the occasional childish gurgle help to emphasize the vulnerability of the protagonist.

  • Value: 45
    Very short, with a rough story that isn't as cleverly-introspective as it wants to be. But the conclusion is powerful!

  • Toddler gameplay*: 65
    The toddler point-of-view is captivating and creepy at first, but the novelty is squandered after the first couple chapters.

  • Overall Score: 60

  • * denotes wild-card score category
Krillbite Studio
Publisher: N/A
Platforms: PC (Steam),
OS X, Linux,
PS4, XBox 360
ESRB rating:N/A
Genre: first-person horror
Players: single-player
Official site:

This is a game that caught my attention back in the beginning of the year. I was on the lookout for new horror games to whet my appetite, and the novelty of this little Indie game had me intrigued.

Among the Sleep - teddy
The teddy bear actually comes off as a bit of a creeper at the beginning of the game..

The novelty of Among the Sleep is that the player character is a two-year-old toddler. I actually think that this is a very clever conceit for a horror game. The world can be a very big, scary place for a small child, full of things that are outside of the child's control and beyond the child's understanding. A young child is completely dependent upon its parents or caregiver, which makes them inherently very vulnerable. Unfortunately, since the game is being played by adults, we can't play the game with the ignorance and naivety of a two-year-old, so we would see any real-world environment as exactly what it is: not scary.

So in order for this to work, the designers would have to be very clever in how the environments are presented. Easily he most effective part of the game is the early chapters when the child is lost in a closet and then exploring the house after waking up to find his mother and teddy are absent.

The first person perspective puts the camera very low to the ground, which makes the ordinary environments look large and menacing. The character moves slowly and clumsily (running for more than a few second results in the character falling on his face). Thus, simple hallways seem long and treacherous. Even interactions as simple as opening a door require a small amount of puzzle-solving since the character can't reach a door handle without climbing onto something. This section takes good advantage of the central concept of playing as a toddler by using the legitimate hugeness of the real world, and tapping into our own innate desire to protect and shelter children, in order to make the player feel small and vulnerable.

You even pause the game and access menus by covering your eyes with your hands! Hooray for a lack of object-permanence!

It is a promising start to the game.

But instead of expounding upon this and turning an otherwise mundane environment into an intimidating one, the design quickly shifts into a blatantly-imaginary, whimsical dreamscape. This disconnect from reality suddenly shatters the immersion of the child character, and squanders the inherent novelty of the game's central concept.

Among the Sleep - whimsical dreamscape
The whimsical dreamscapes utterly fail at being threatening, which deflates most early-game fear and tension.

Apart from a brief glimpse at the beginning, the monster doesn't even appear until almost an hour into the game. So this whimsical dreamscape quickly loses any sense of threat or danger as you simply walk through it, unimpeded, to your objectives. There is no buildup of anticipation or tension, no looming threat. So when the monster finally does show up, it feels more like a minor inconvenience rather than a dreaded threat.

The game's own mechanics are also somewhat squandered. You're taught how to interact with objects in the world in the tutorial (such as picking things up and throwing them), but the core gameplay rarely requires you to use any skills beyond crawling and climbing. Occasionally, you may have to move an object or throw something in order to solve a puzzle to progress, but these mechanics feel forced in this situations and rarely emerge as an organic element of the gameplay. Hiding in closets and using the teddy bear for "comfort" and light are also mechanics that have no real use (despite their thematic value), since crawling under a nearby table is always sufficient to hide from the monster until it goes away.

In fact, crawling is the most optimal form of locomotion. The player character moves faster when crawling, and crawling is just generally more efficient, even though it limits your view of the surroundings and prevents certain interactions with the world. This is one area where the novelty of a two-year-old player character plays in the game's favor.

And when you're not crawling, you are usually climbing and solving simple physics-based puzzles. This is one very nimble and dextrous toddler!

Among the Sleep - birthday cake
The mother plays an important role in the narrative,
but the player doesn't interact with her long enough to develop any attachment to her.

The game is also very short. I completed it in under three hours, but I could easily imagine speed runners getting through it in around one hour. But that couple of hours is really all the game needs to tell its story. Being that this is a horror game, you can imagine that the story is pretty dark. And given that it involves a small child, you can probably also guess that something bad / traumatic happens to the child or his mother.

There are subtle clues as to the nature of this story. Child drawings can be found scattered around the environment that give somewhat enigmatic hints regarding the trauma that induces the nightmare. Careful observation of the environments will provide some other significant clues, but there's nothing too surprising.

The story doesn't come together as nicely as it could. There are a couple red herrings that are thrown at the player to make you think that something is going on that perhaps isn't. Water is a recurring theme in the middle of the game that led me to consider that perhaps the mother had drowned (either by accident or suicide) or that she had attempted to drown the baby in some sort of post-pardem depression. This was not the case, however, so one of the most prevalent motifs in the game doesn't seem to have any relevance to the story.

Among the Sleep - bear hug
Teddy provides narrative direction and can be hugged to light up the dark.

A lot of the game's more surreal content seems to be in reference to real places and events in the child's past. But the game never bothers to show us those events or explain the significance of the items being referenced, so they have no significance to the player and the introspection falls apart. The mother character is also given almost no characterization or screen time, which is a problem considering how important a role she plays in the game. Her lack of presence means that the player never has an opportunity to develop any sort of attachment to her.

Pacing is also a bit of a problem. I already mentioned how the monster's appearance is delayed too long, but from a narrative standpoint, the game also gives few details of the story until everything gets thrown at the player all at once in the game's final chapter. The game may have felt more satisfying if the monster had played more of a significant role, and if the pieces of the story's puzzle were more gradually revealed throughout the few hours of game time.

A sheer majority of the game's action occurs in the second half of the game. A lot of it consists of crawling around and hiding from the creature when it appears. The creature's appearance is accompanied by audio cues and significant screen blur. So you'll always know that it's around, and that it's time to find a place to hide.

Among the Sleep - screen blur accompanies the creature's appearance
Screen distortion always accompanies the monster's appearances, cueing you to find a place to hide.

The monster only appears a handful of times, and it usually disappears immediately after if the player finds a hiding spot in time. The interaction with the monster is very limited, and so it's not that significant an element in the game. It doesn't stalk the player, and there's no real cat-and-mouse interplay. As long as you keep aware of the nearest thing you can crawl under, then you won't have to fear much for your safety.

If the developers had come up with an actual need for hugging the teddy bear, and if they had expanded upon the evasion of the monster, then there could have been a lot more gratification and strategy in the gameplay. If the monster was a bit smarter and more persistent and methodical in its search for the child, then the teddy could have been used to calm the child to prevent it from crying and giving away his position. Or something like that.

The $20 asking price for this game might be a bit steep for the limited playtime and lack of any real scares. But if you can pick it up on a Steam sale (as I did), then the novelty makes it worth a few hours of your time. It's story is shaky in the middle act, but the conclusion is very human, very blunt, and terrifyingly real, in a way that goes far beyond the childish terror that any imaginary closet monster can create.

Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Other Game Reviews I've Published

>Observer_>Observer_Ace Combat 7Ace Combat 7
Alan WakeAlan WakeAlien: IsolationAlien: Isolation
Amnesia: a Machine for PigsAmnesia: a Machine for PigsAmnesia: RebirthAmnesia: Rebirth
Amnesia: the Dark DescentAmnesia: the Dark DescentAmong the SleepAmong the Sleep
Assassin's Creed IIIAssassin's Creed IIIAssassin's Creed IV: Black FlagAssassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed: OriginsAssassin's Creed: OriginsAxis Football 18Axis Football 18
Axis Football 2019Axis Football 2019Axis Football 2020Axis Football 2020
Back to the Future Episode OneBack to the Future Episode OneBackbreaker FootballBackbreaker Football
BanishedBanishedBatman: Arkham CityBatman: Arkham City
Battlefield 1Battlefield 1Blair WitchBlair Witch
BloodborneBloodborneBloodborne: the Old HuntersBloodborne: the Old Hunters
Call of Duty World War IICall of Duty World War IICatherineCatherine
Cities SkylinesCities SkylinesCities Skylines: After DarkCities Skylines: After Dark
Cities Skylines: CampusCities Skylines: CampusCities Skylines: Green CitiesCities Skylines: Green Cities
Cities Skylines: IndustriesCities Skylines: IndustriesCities Skylines: Mass TransitCities Skylines: Mass Transit
Cities Skylines: Natural DisastersCities Skylines: Natural DisastersCities Skylines: ParklifeCities Skylines: Parklife
Cities Skylines: SnowfallCities Skylines: SnowfallCities: Skylines: Match Day & ver. 1.4Cities: Skylines: Match Day & ver. 1.4
CitiesXL & Cities XXLCitiesXL & Cities XXLCrusader Kings IIICrusader Kings III
Dark SoulsDark SoulsDark Souls Artorias of the Abyss DLCDark Souls Artorias of the Abyss DLC
Dark Souls IIDark Souls IIDark Souls II: Scholar of the First SinDark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
Dark Souls IIIDark Souls IIIDark Souls III: Ashes of AriandelDark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel
Dark Souls III: the Ringed CityDark Souls III: the Ringed CityDawn of ManDawn of Man
Dead Space 2Dead Space 2Death StrandingDeath Stranding
Death's GambitDeath's GambitDemon's SoulsDemon's Souls
Devil May Cry 5Devil May Cry 5DmC (Devil May Cry)DmC (Devil May Cry)
DOOM (2016)DOOM (2016)DreadOutDreadOut
Event [0]Event [0]F.T.L. (Faster Than Light)F.T.L. (Faster Than Light)
Fallout 4Fallout 4Fallout ShelterFallout Shelter
Far Cry PrimalFar Cry PrimalFinal Fantasy XIIIFinal Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XVFirewatchFirewatch
Five Nights at Freddy'sFive Nights at Freddy'sGame of Thrones (Telltale series 1-2)Game of Thrones (Telltale series 1-2)
Ghost of TsushimaGhost of TsushimaGod of War (2018)God of War (2018)
God of War IIIGod of War IIIGone HomeGone Home
Grand Theft Auto VGrand Theft Auto VHellblade: Senua's SacrificeHellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Her StoryHer StoryKingdom Come: DeliveranceKingdom Come: Deliverance
L.A. NoireL.A. NoireLayers Of Fear 2Layers Of Fear 2
Lifeless PlanetLifeless PlanetLollipop ChainsawLollipop Chainsaw
Mad MaxMad MaxMadden NFL 11Madden NFL 11
Madden NFL 12Madden NFL 12Madden NFL 13Madden NFL 13
Madden NFL 15Madden NFL 15Madden NFL 16Madden NFL 16
Madden NFL 17Madden NFL 17Madden NFL 18Madden NFL 18
Madden NFL 19Madden NFL 19Madden NFL 20Madden NFL 20
Madden NFL 21Madden NFL 21Mars Rover LandingMars Rover Landing
Marvel's Spider-ManMarvel's Spider-ManMaster of Orion: Conquer the StarsMaster of Orion: Conquer the Stars
Maximum Football 2018Maximum Football 2018Maximum Football 2019Maximum Football 2019
Maximum Football2020Maximum Football2020Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom PainMetal Gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain
MiasmataMiasmataMiddle-Earth: Shadow of MordorMiddle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Middle-Earth: Shadow of WarMiddle-Earth: Shadow of WarMonster Hunter: WorldMonster Hunter: World
Moons of MadnessMoons of MadnessNCAA Football 11NCAA Football 11
NCAA Football 12NCAA Football 12NCAA Football 13NCAA Football 13
NiohNiohNo Man's SkyNo Man's Sky
ObservationObservationOuter WildsOuter Wilds
OutlastOutlastPapers, PleasePapers, Please
Portal 2Portal 2Red Dead RedemptionRed Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption IIRed Dead Redemption IIResident Evil 2Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 3Resident Evil 3Resident Evil RemasteredResident Evil Remastered
Resident Evil VII: BiohazardResident Evil VII: BiohazardResident Evil VIII VillageResident Evil VIII Village
Return of the Obra DinnReturn of the Obra DinnRock Band 3Rock Band 3
Room 404Room 404Sekiro: Shadows Die TwiceSekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Shadow of the Colossus (2018)Shadow of the Colossus (2018)Sid Meier's Civilization VSid Meier's Civilization V
Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New WorldSid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New WorldSid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & KingsSid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & Kings
Sid Meier's Civilization VISid Meier's Civilization VISid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering StormSid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and FallSid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and FallSid Meier's Civilization: Beyond EarthSid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth Rising TideSid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth Rising TideSilent Hill 4: the RoomSilent Hill 4: the Room
Silent Hill HD CollectionSilent Hill HD CollectionSilent Hill: Shattered MemoriesSilent Hill: Shattered Memories
Sillent Hill DownpourSillent Hill DownpourSimCity (2013)SimCity (2013)
SimCity BuilditSimCity BuilditSomaSoma
Spider-Man: Edge of TimeSpider-Man: Edge of TimeSpider-Man: Shattered DimensionsSpider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Star Trek TrexelsStar Trek TrexelsStar Wars Battlefront IIStar Wars Battlefront II
Star Wars Jedi Fallen OrderStar Wars Jedi Fallen OrderStellarisStellaris
Stellaris mod: New HorizonsStellaris mod: New HorizonsTacomaTacoma
The Amazing Spider-ManThe Amazing Spider-ManThe Amazing Spider-Man 2The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimThe Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLCThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLC
The Evil WithinThe Evil WithinThe Evil Within 2The Evil Within 2
The Last GuardianThe Last GuardianThe Last of UsThe Last of Us
The Outer WorldsThe Outer WorldsThe SaboteurThe Saboteur
The SwapperThe SwapperThe Witcher 3 expansionsThe Witcher 3 expansions
The Witcher 3: Wild HuntThe Witcher 3: Wild HuntThis War of MineThis War of Mine
This War of Mine: the Little OnesThis War of Mine: the Little OnesTomb Raider (2013)Tomb Raider (2013)
Total War: AttilaTotal War: AttilaTotal War: Rome IITotal War: Rome II
Total War: Shogun 2Total War: Shogun 2Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the SamuraiTotal War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai
TrineTrineTropico 5Tropico 5
Ultimate General: Civil WarUltimate General: Civil WarUncharted 3: Drake's DeceptionUncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Until DawnUntil DawnVirginiaVirginia
VisageVisageWhat Remains of Edith FinchWhat Remains of Edith Finch

Contribute Comment


We'll incarnate your avatar from the services below.
PlayStation Network Steam Xbox LIVE Facebook MySpace Pinterest Twitter YouTube deviantART LiveJournal

  • Comment
  • Preview

Grid Clock Widget
12      60
11      55
10      50
09      45
08      40
07      35
06      30
05      25
04      20
03      15
02      10
01      05
Grid Clock provided by trowaSoft.

A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

Follow me on Twitter at:


If you enjoy my content, please consider Supporting me on Patreon:

FTC guidelines require me to disclose that as an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases made by clicking on Amazon product links on this site. All Amazon Associate links are for products relevant to the given blog post, and are usually posted because I recommend the product.

Without Gravity

And check out my colleague, David Pax's novel Without Gravity on his website!

Featured Post

With EA Sports College Football in the mix, we'll have a full slate of football video games in 2022/2023!With EA Sports College Football in the mix, we'll have a full slate of football video games in 2022/2023!02/03/2021 Last year (around this same time, in fact), we football video game fans were given the bombshell news that EA's exclusive contract with the NFL wasn't quite as exclusive as we thought. That contract apparently only covered "simulation" football games (which makes me wonder how or why EA has the license to begin with, since they...

Random Post

The problem of excessive and unnecessary party members in the Final Fantasy seriesThe problem of excessive and unnecessary party members in the Final Fantasy series02/02/2015 Despite being great games, the character development systems of many Final Fantasy games have really weird qualities that put them at odds with the games' narratives. One of the things that separates games from other media such as books or movies is that games are interactive experiences. The best games typically have gameplay...

Tag Cloud

Month List

Recent Comments

Comment RSS