One of the many video games I’ve backed is Among the Sleep, a survival horror game from the perspective of a two-year-old. With a premise like that, how could I not be interested? The finished game came out last May, and I finally played it.
Among the Sleep is the sort of atmospheric horror game that blurs the line between reality and imagination. How much of what you see is real? Is it just a nightmare? These questions tossed me into a twisted world, an unsettling dreamscape composed of bits and pieces of the real world.
I’ve noticed that survival horror games have an odd tendency to use particularly beautiful environments, and Among the Sleep is no exception. Several of its locations had a striking, haunting beauty.
I spent the first hour or so suspecting the strange happenings and warped locations were just the child’s frightened interpretation of the world. This, combined with the initial jump scares, led me to believe there was no real danger, making the game creepy rather than scary.
Then a monster killed me.
Much like when I played Master Reboot, I learned the hard way that the monsters stalking this nightmare world were legitimate threats. Suddenly the game was a lot scarier. This tension remained throughout the rest of the game, and I couldn’t look at those “harmless” jump scares the same way again.
Even so, Among the Sleep never reaches the heights of terror as a game like Amnesia or Alien: Isolation does. It’s a short game, only 2-3 hours long, and forgiving checkpoints keep the tension from escalating too high. Most of the puzzles are simple, and only a few areas achieve the maze-like nature common to survival horror. However, the psychological elements give it an unsettling tone that lingers after the overt scares.
I would compare its storytelling to that of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. The more you play, the more you realize the game blends real-world fears with its nightmarish monsters, and that is Among the Sleep’s greatest strength.
If you’re interested in an atmospheric psychological horror game and don’t mind a shorter, simpler approach to survival horror tropes, take a look at Among the Sleep. And if you’ve already played it, share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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