Image from Steam.
Among the sleep
- A horror story written by a two year old?
No, this game is not developed by a two year old. What I mean is the story of the game. There will be no spoilers in this article. I promise. I haven't played that many minutes of the game yet to be able to tell you guys anything that will be able to spoil anything.
But take a look at the trailers in this article. They are the official ones from the developers Youtube account. Now I am only speculating of course but to me it sounds like this will end up being a story where you have to fight your way through the imagination of a two year old. And the imagination of a child can be quite crazy, especially at night. Are there monsters in the closet? Under the bed?
This game is not a new one. It was released in 2014, almost exactly 3 years ago (29th of May 2014). It was among the games I purchased immediately when I got my PlayStation 4 during the spring. And I still haven't gotten around to playing it for real. A horror title is not something I can play when the kids are awake. A horror title with a two year old as the main character, that is not something I can play when the wife is around either. But I have started to play it and I felt it was time for a proper text about this game. The text will be updated once I have completed a big part of the game.
Which is why I contacted the independent developers at Krillbite studios with a few questions as well.
Let's take it from the beginning.
You are celebrating your second birthday by eating birthday cake with your mother. This wonderful day continues with you recieving a birthday gift that you will play with for a while before bedtime. You have time for some tutorial action while exploring the closet. When things become a bit scary it helps to hug a stuffed animal. Then your mother finds you and puts you to bed. All good right there.
All of a sudden you wake up. It is in the middle if the night. Your bed seems to have fallen over. Since you are only two years old you are not tall enough to reach the door handle. How are you supposed to go look for help? Mooooom!
Image from Steam.
Now what is this child afraid of? Besides not finding mom. What horrors will the imagination of this child make us face? Take a look at some of the trailers below.
Damn! I am not convinced I am fast enough with the controls to be able to move around quickly enough, opening and closing doors like they do in this trailer. I am going to hate myself while playing this, looks fucking scary. And I have only just begun my journey into this adventure.
Looks pretty damn scary at times huh? Now I wonder what that actually is. Is the child still asleep or is it shadows from curtains moving in the wind? Surely there can't be real monsters, right? Pay attention to the balance of the kid in this second trailer. I will write more regarding that later in this text.
Now what did I ask the developers?
At first I had to congratulate them to some nice awards they have recieved for this game.
Then there was this question. How the hell do you come up with the idea of creating this game? Anyone in the team have a kid around that age?
Turns out that was not the case. However there were a lot of people in the team with relatives around that age. Observations when it comes to understanding a child at that age was not just something they created from meeting relatives every now and then. No, these guys really did some work to get this right. Imagine watching a video where a two year old is wearing a go pro camera. To get the feel for how their are moving around, how their balance are.
As far as I understood they did not have to make these videos themselves, there were stuff like it already available. Still, making that extra effort in order to give us a great game.
Now regarding the fact that it might be a tough subject, I figured they might have gotten some criticism from parents. But the comments they have gotten from people are only positive. Now they hinted at some appreciation regarding the story, I guess I am in for a real treat.
Now about the graphics
If you have read my articles in the past you know that I am all about the choice of graphical style. Especially when it comes to indie games. Since everything is about the atmosphere, how do you manage to achieve the best atmosphere? Is it trying to imitate reality as much as possible? Is it going deliberatly towards the cartoon sort of graphic?
So I wondered if they had any problems choosing which direction they would go for. And I got some intresting answers.
Judging from the few minutes I have played the game and the trailers above. It does look like there are quite a few details in the enviroment. It is not like they have made it a cartoonish style to avoid working with details. Now what they have done is to make it a little bit painted. As a child would look at their surroundings. After I read their comment regarding that, it was the obvious way to go. After all, you are supposed to connect with that character. To choose a graphical style to reflect the mind of a two year old is perfect!
The brightness was something they were thinking through properly. If it was too bright it would take away the horror from the game. But if it would have been super dark then a game containing a child would easily become too morbid.
Looking at the trailers and from the few minutes I played. I would say that there are a lot of details to the enviroment. When crawling for example you can see the the boards in the floor. It is not just some plain surface which would have been an easier way to go for a developer.
Is it morbid with a horror story including a two year old?
Looking at the way Hollywood is using children to create the dramatic events in their horror movies. I'd say that this is just how things are nowadays. At first, the 90's, we were using the new technologies to make movies/games more terrifying. Now we have the technological means of doing that without any problems. Now how do we create the unique horror experience? We use something that people are having a hard time dealing with. Noone wants to see a child being scared or hurt in a movie or in a game. So that is what they are playing at, our fears of children being hurt.
I know Stephen King has been using it for his movies IT and The Shining but those kids were a bit older. Nowadays the age is lower. So I'd say that there is a difference.
Now the developers at Krillbite studios are doing something special. They are not just adding a child as a friendly character in the game. You are the child!
When it comes to a horror story where you are walking around as a two year old at night, we don't really know what the horror part is. For example. If the cup of apple juice is empty for about five seconds. That can seem like the world is about to end if you are two years old. I am looking forward to see what the story will tell us along the way. How have the developers chosen to interpret the imagination of a young child?