Among the Sleep first popped up on my radar from a WhatCulture video, but it took me a few months to actually download the game. It was listed as a one-of-a-kind horror game and I thought because you are literally a baby in this game, it wouldn’t be overwhelmingly scary. It’s been a while since I’ve dived into a horror game and I am an actual baby about being scared so it felt right. Here is my experience in Among the Sleep.
You begin the game with your creepy mom stuffing cake in your face. You’re literally a baby in a onesie being carried around and all you can really do is look around until mom puts you in your playpen. Your mission is to break out and when you do, you’ll find your companion, a weird teddy bear, hidden in your room. As is tradition, I picked up any object I could and began lobbing things around the room and at my teddy’s head. He did not care. I am a weak baby.
This game does a great job of making you feel overwhelmed by the world around you. Pillows are too heavy to lift, you have a goofy baby walk and run (you’ll trip and eat shit if you try to run for too long), and you even make the goofy little mouth-breathing sounds of a determined toddler navigating the world. You’re so slow that it literally feels like the kind of nightmares people have where they are running but stuck in place. Crawling lets you move faster, but even that does not feel like enough to avoid the nightmares you encounter… like this haunting face lowering you into the crib.
I jest! The game is creepy enough without introducing paranormal elements. When your crib is flipped over and your teddy goes missing, you start your journey wandering the dark corridors of the house. I immediately flashed back to memories as a kid getting up at night and how scary it felt. A trip to the bathroom felt perilous, and this game does a great job of recreating that fear while inserting the legitimate things I was afraid would happen in those dark halls.
What starts as a creepy crawling simulator turns into a more complicated adventure as you discover mom is nowhere to be found. After reuniting with your teddy, you’ll venture out of your home and into mysterious zones trying to find objects that will bring you closer to her. He knows an awful lot about how to solve puzzles and find her for being a brand new teddy you just met…
The mood and artwork creates a constant sense of dread. All of the dark shadows, the sound of your heart racing, and creepy moments like footprints appearing or doors creaking open in the distance will have you hesitating to move forward. Although there are other games that put you in survival horror experiences without the ability to defend yourself, somehow it feels worse in this game because you are literally incapable of even intimidating a threat when you come across one. Because of this, I decided to embrace my true baby nature along the way. I felt it was appropriate after getting bonked on the head with a ball to get distracted by a playground and forget about my mission.
I love the atmosphere of the game, but things really take a turn once you get further into the story. While you’re always catching glimpses of something out of the corner of your eye or feeling like there’s something waiting around every corner, it isn’t until about halfway through the game that you begin… well, realizing you definitely aren’t alone.
The monsters are not consistently present, but the anxiety they cause is forever lingering. Up until this moment, I kept seeing glimpses of them, but hadn’t had anything actually confront me. It wasn’t until I tried to get through a gate that I realized the tone of the game was shifting. I was being hunted. The worst feeling is waddling your slow little baby away from a massive shadow monster. I crawled as fast as my stubby limbs would let me.
Your challenges are no longer just about trying to reach door handles. You’ve got puzzles to solve and items to find in order to progress the story. Most of the time, you can move without incident. As long as you have something to crawl under (or into), the monsters can’t get you. You just have to wait for them to leave. If you are unlucky, however, you’ll end up too close to one and no matter how hard you press those buttons to get out of there, you are getting caught.
There are multiple layers to the story and it is interesting to see how complexities can be missed simply because it is being told through the eyes of a child. Towards the end, the pieces will begin to fall into place and you’ll finally have some more context. Is this just the vivid imagination/dream of a child? Is his mother the victim of a paranormal attack? What is happening!?
The game is pretty short and I was able to beat it in one night. This is not a complaint from me. I enjoy being able to get in and out of a horror game as quickly as possible so that I do not have to subject myself to so many jump scares. Overall, I did enjoy this game. I do think there is a unique element of fear experienced because of the character you play as. At times, I felt safe because I thought, “who would make a baby torture simulator,” but in other moments, I wasn’t so sure I could trust that assumption.
Even if you don’t find the premise of this game scary, it is a really unique experience I enjoyed simply because it wasn’t the norm. So many games make you an all-powerful * whatever *, giving you powers, weapons, and ways to dominate the world around you. This game is the opposite in every capacity. As much as you try to take control, you are easily overpowered, you cannot become stronger, and you unable to defend yourself. It’s a chilling story that puts you on the opposite end of the spectrum, delivering a unique experience you’re unlikely to find again.
Have you played this game before? What are your thoughts on this premise? Sound intriguing? Boring? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!