“Among the Sleep” by Krillbite Studios is one of the more promising indie horrors to catch my eye of late, specifically for its intriguing premise. Rather than casting you as an otherwise capable adult of variable physical prowess it puts you in the comfy romper suit of a two year-old child, who wakes up one dark and stormy night to try and find their mother. Lightning flashes cast long and threatening shadows across the floor while every dark nook and cranny swells with real or imagined monsters skulking in the blackness. And that’s before all the supernatural stuff starts happening, like the mysterious choking noises emanating from an otherwise mundane washing machine.
According to Polygon you’ll be able to experience all this for yourself for free from tomorrow May 14th, when Krillbite Studios release the alpha version to the wider gaming public. Previously available only to those who pledged $100+ to the game’s Kickstarter campaign, the alpha version of Among the Sleep will be available from 2pm Eastern Yankee time (that’s about 8pm GMT) for anyone to download and play.
From the footage released so far Krillbite appear to have nailed the feeling of a dark and scary adult world filtered through the perspective of a child. Most of the time you crawl around on all fours to navigate titanic rooms full of brooding cyclopean furniture. You can also stand for brief periods to better climb up on things or run for as long as your podgy legs will allow before you fall over. Which isn’t very long naturally because you’re playing someone barely knee-high to a large dog, not your usual military special ops golden-boy-wonder gunning down hordes of identikit abominations. I’ve always been a vocal proponent of vulnerable protagonists in horror games, like Jennifer in Clock Tower for the SNES, and you can’t get much more vulnerable than a toddler.
Not that you’re automatically a tasty shuffling snack for the first nightmare spawn lucky enough to stumble upon you. According to the game’s Kickstarter page Among the Sleep will have no traditional combat so players will have to avoid confrontation by alternate means, such as by hiding in cupboards or using other sly methods children know so well. If you don’t then you die, much like many of the children in original European fairytales in fact. An apt comparison perhaps, given Among the Sleep’s strong narrative theme of imagination and its quasi-real dreamlike setting.
As of right now Among the Sleep’s Kickstarter has yet to meet it’s funding goal, being about $17,000 short of it’s $200,000 goal despite a very strong start. Kickstarter fatigue is more endemic nowadays and I sincerely hope it doesn’t throttle Among the Sleep in its crib, and that Krillbite can meet its goal before the deadline approaches. Like Routine, Among the Sleep, with its unique premise and viewpoint, is a sharp breath of talcum-scented air in a genre that’s already getting a bit musty from the one-too-many unimaginative Slender rip-offs popping up like fungi.
Quite frankly if Among the Sleep doesn’t meet it’s funding goal it’ll be downright criminal.