I'm going to be straight with you, horror games are not for everyone. I've noticed that while people will almost indefinitely play out RPG's they are quick to give up on horror games after a few good scares, and while it's not proven (by any means), I suspect that this is because the average player cannot identify with many of the protagonists of horror games in the same way they can relate to the hero's and anti-hero's of other games. This is completely reasonable as much of a games enjoyability comes from the player being able to project aspects of who they are, or aspire to be, onto the main character. This is also why Among the Sleep stands out as a horror-adventure. In Among the Sleep you play as a young child who is searching for his mother. This is one of the most fascinating aspects of the game because everyone knows what it is like to be a child who is scared -and maybe a little lost.
One of the first points that I'd like to make is this: the narrative in this game, while a little on the short side, is pretty good. Granted, it is nowhere as in-depth as say Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but it is fairly compelling despite its simplistic nature. As previously mentioned, you are a toddler, 2 years old to be exact, who has woken up in the middle of the night to find that something is amiss in your house. Like any scared child you stumble through the house (keeping your faithful companion, Teddy, close by) and eventually make your way to your mothers bedroom to seek comfort and reassurance that there are no monsters in the closet. Unfortunately, upon making it to her room you find her bed empty; this is where the story truly begins.
Playing through this Among the Sleep with the unique perspective of a child lends an added creep factor to the game. While on your quest you find yourself in various strange dark places; many of which appear to be distorted memories of the child protagonist that have been overcome by nature. The scenery in this game is an eerie amalgamation of unsettling and whimsical and works well as a metaphor for the themes of destruction and loss that are present though out the game.
Some of the core game play is also driven by the petite stature of the playable character. Toddlers are not particularly adept at walking and so they occasionally revert back to crawling; in this game you can switch between the two at will. The two methods of movement also offer different benefits and weaknesses. While walking you are able to interact with objects and hug teddy (which provides a little bit of comforting light), walking, however, is slow and makes you more visible. Crawling, on the other hand, is fast and allows you to hide under things. You also have no way of fighting, well... what ever that thing is, you are only 2 after all.
Most of the "horror" that comes from this game is rooted in the environment, there is a thing eventually, and a few jump-like scares here and there, but ultimately it will be the little noises and movements that send chills down your spine. As a bit of a side note: this game is oculus compatible. I have not yet played Among the Sleep on oculus (though I might try to get around to it within the month) but I have played a few other horror games/demos on the oculus and I believe that this game would be infinitely better on oculus. The atmosphere developed through the maps is what really shines about this
Overall this game is a great introduction to horror games. The puzzles are not overly complex, nor do you have to dedicate too much time to finishing the narrative. At $21.99 CDN Among the Sleep is a little bit expensive, considering the quantity of content (and I've never been a fan of characters body parts passing through walls either), but aside from some minor flaws with the character models the quality of this game is great and I would strongly recommend it to anyone, horror and non-horror fans alike.