Among the Sleep
The world of a two year old can
be a scary place, especially if mummy isn’t around. While there is much
to admire in this first outing from Krillbite, it ended up falling short
of the mark, literally and figuratively, primarily because it moved
beyond that toddler realm.
The opening scenes give you a
taste for what you are in for, perspective wise. It’s your birthday, and
mummy has cake, and the high chair the spoon coming at you make it clear
you are anything but grown up. Then it’s into the play pen for some R
and R, and you get to come to terms with the perambulation limitations
of being this small.
Getting out of the play pen will
help you with the games mechanics, and then you get to explore. Finding
the talking teddy will give voice to the things you can’t say yourself,
some more mechanical instruction, and, in a rather nifty take on being
on infant, some illumination via a teddy hug.
While I never have liked the
style of interface where you mimic the action you are trying to achieve
with the mouse (e.g. hold and pull back on the mouse to pull a draw
open), these initial scenes do a pretty good job of building your baby
person. Crawling is a quicker way to get around as opposed to your
standing shuffle, but standing is necessary in order to reach some of
things above ground level. Being a baby is further enhanced by the first
person perspective, and the fact you can “see” yourself, or at least
your baby blue pj’d bottom half, if you look down.
So far so good, and then it gets
gooder, as the bed you have been put in is tossed about and mummy is no
longer there. Out of your room, and the dark house, with its massive
size given your diminutive stature, brings back all the reasons why
noises and objects are scary when you are small. I can distinctly
remember running across my dark bedroom and leaping onto my bed from as
far away as I could manage so whatever it was under my bed didn’t get
me. At this point in the game, Among the Sleep does a great job of
conveying that same sense of scary dread.
And then I thought it lost its
way. Exiting the house takes you to a series of alternate reality type
worlds, which while having a mundane base ultimately detract from the
“why are things scary to a toddler” dynamic. They were visually
interesting, and audibly rich in themselves, but they didn’t feel like
part of an overall whole. Or at least not a whole that had been built on
the original foundations.
Puzzling too was a tad
uninspiring. True, there is a not a lot that a toddler can do, but the
puzzles reflected this. Solve the first few and you have unlocked the
way forward for the rest of the game. From an adventure perspective, it
lacked any real substance.
So too the story, although again
there are obvious limitations given your age. I liked the fact that
writing appeared as gobbledygook – babies can’t read so why would it be
comprehensible – but the talking teddy notwithstanding, the tale lacked
any real substance.
Which would have been ok if the
whole thing had stayed within the realms of ‘realism”. A small child
looking for its mother in a dark house, beset by all those shapes and
noises, would probably have been sufficient. The soundscape, especially
with headphones, and the visuals would have conjured up all those latent
childlike horrors, and a few hours later it’s end would have felt like a
welcome relief. However by moving beyond that, it ended up feeling like
style rather than substance, and its limitations become so much more
Which is a bit of a shame,
because as I said at the start there is much to admire. You have to like
something that tries to be different, especially as there is way too
much that is simply a rehash of other things. There is promise here, and
that’s a good thing for Krillbite.
I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz
Video card: AMD
Radeon HD 7800 2048MB
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