Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Childhood

Review: Among the Sleep

Jan 04 // Caitlin Cooke
Among the Sleep (PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PC)Developer: Krillbite StudioPublisher: Krillbite StudioMSRP: $14.99Released: December 8, 2015 (PS4), May 29, 2014 (PC) There is no combat in Among the Sleep; instead the game focuses on atmospheric exploration and simple puzzle solving. Just like being a real toddler, your options are limited to crawling, walking, grabbing, and running -- all of which mimic the slowness and clunkiness that would come with being a small child. Teddy, your beloved stuffed pal, accompanies you through the twisted and strange worlds you encounter in your quest to find mom, occasionally offering advice and kind words. You also have the option to hug Teddy, however, all this really does is provide dim light (and perhaps some comfort). There’s not much to do in terms of gameplay, but it’s less of a problem as there’s always some atmospheric happenstance occurring that keeps you occupied throughout -- whether it’s a creepy wail, a haunted toy moving in the wind, or some other oddity that leaves you with strange feelings (or perhaps an instinct to investigate further). The puzzle aspects aren’t complicated but are tied in well, keeping objectives moving along in a nice way and adding something a little extra that compliments the story. Dynamics switch it up a bit about halfway through the game, with a chapter consisting of a “run and hide” scenario where a mysterious woman chases you for unknown reasons. If she is successful in capturing you, it’s a game over, which seems to be the only way to truly die. In a later level, there is a similarly dark figure in a cloak who stalks about the area, summoned whenever a bottle breaks. At first it's unclear what to do in these situations as running away rarely works, but Teddy often shares hints to help you understand what’s to come. This isn’t your average jump-scare game -- the horror is much more ingrained into the levels and feels more genuine than a lot of games in the genre these days. The atmosphere builds upon slow tension and mystery rather than the thrill of a quick scare, which leaves a sense of dread -- especially considering the fact that you play a defenseless toddler. Ever-so-slight changes to the environment occurred from time to time which made me look and think twice if I thought I saw something different or if the looming suspense was playing tricks on me. Among the Sleep has some interesting level design with elements mixed together to give the areas a dream-like quality, teetering on the edge of fantasy and reality. One level consists of a winding forest full of children’s relics including looming owl sculptures, floating blocks, and an upside-down playhouse. Another takes place within a house that seems normal at first but slowly devolves into a twisted, confusing maze reminiscent of a scene from Labyrinth. Each area is creepy and disturbing in its own right, recalling elements from childhood in a twisted way which sets a disturbing background to the tense gameplay. Where the game really shines is in its inherent symbolism. Among the Sleep is constantly telling a story through its environment, depictions, and props despite there being little understanding of the direction it is taking, and there being little to no dialogue (with the exception of Teddy comforting you from time to time). It’s a work of art in that respect as the decor and slight changes to the environment can go unnoticed, but they all speak to certain aspects of the plot. It’s hard to understand what’s going on and where Among the Sleep is leading, but the lack of clarity in the direction actually enhances the storyline and feeds into the innocent nature of the character. The main elements of the story are tied together extremely quickly, almost abruptly, in the end to form a more complete picture. Multiple conclusions can be drawn as the ending is a bit open-ended, but without spoiling too much, I wasn’t a fan of the overall message it sent. This being said, Among the Sleep does a great job telling a story without being overt in its intentions. Despite the great storytelling mechanics, I can’t help but wish there was a little more to the game. When all was said and done it wrapped up in a handful of hours at most and I was left craving more. It’s especially a let down because the game invents such new ways of thinking about the horror genre, and it left so much to be expanded on. However, I honestly have to applaud the team for delivering a concise and complete story in that amount of time, and one that is so unique to the horror realm at that. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Among the Sleep photo
Don't let the bed bugs bite...
Childhood is a rare state of vulnerability that we only get to experience once in life -- full of bewilderment, innocence, and most of all an uncertainty of the unknown. Among the Sleep takes us back to this state, providin...

Which video games did you grow up with?

Aug 09 // Ben Davis
We had a ton of other NES cartridges, too. Of course, we had the other two Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, plus some other neat games like Clash at Demonhead, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, 1943: The Battle of Midway, Marble Madness, and Excitebike, as well as some weirder ones like Fester's Quest, T&C Surf Designs, and Winter Games. I dabbled in all of these games, usually with my sister and brother -- who was way better than me at the time, so I watched him beat more than a few of them. As for the other consoles, we only owned a few titles for each, and typically rented more. Our SNES collection included Super Mario World, Mario Paint, A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy II (well, IV), and Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge. I liked all of these, but I probably played Final Fantasy II and Mario Paint the most (I loved that fly swatter mini-game!). I was terrible at Final Fantasy, though. I always got stuck on the octopus boss or the Antlion. I know I never saw anything past that point. But I kept trying to get better, because I really wanted to see more of that world. The Sega Genesis didn't get much love. I know we had a few Sonic the Hedgehog games and Ecco: The Tides of Time, but I can't remember anything else. Ecco was actually one of my favorite games at the time, because I was obsessed with marine biology as a kid (and still am!), but I was so bad at it that I just watched my brother play it instead. Whenever I played, I mostly just swam around and did flips and stuff. We also had some neat PC games. I remember playing Myst, SimTown, Lemmings, Magic Carpet, and Lode Runner: The Legend Returns on our old Windows 95 computer. I always thought Myst was really interesting visually, but I could never solve the puzzles by myself, of course. I spent most of my time with SimTown and Lode Runner. I even messed around with the level editor in Lode Runner a bit and tried to make my own maps. I'm sure all of the games from my childhood helped shape me into the gamer I am today and had major influences on my tastes. I always seemed to prefer the weird stuff, like Super Mario Bros. 2, Blaster Master, and Ecco. I loved platformers most, but also enjoyed RPGs and creative games like Mario Paint and SimTown. Of course, my tastes have since grown to include many other genres and types of games, but the ones I grew up with were the foundation of my hobby and I'll never forget them. How about you? Which games did you have growing up? What did you play the most and why?
Community discussion photo
Time for a nostalgia trip
Everyone remembers their first video game, right? I often think back on the games my family owned growing up and realize how much of an impact they had on my life. Without them, I might not be here today talking about video g...

 photo

The Past: Parental bonding


Promoted from our Community Blogs!
Feb 11
// Logan Janes
[Dtoid Community Blogger Logan Janes shares a touching story about how video games gave he and his father a platform on which to discuss the big questions in life and grow together. Want to see your own words and thought...

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...