Among The Sleep is a game developed by Krillbite Studios, and I think it is a most excellent example of how a game can maintain elements that would definitely define it as a game rather than an interactive storybook like some people have labeled Dear Esther, and still hold a similarly powerful meaning. Perhaps even more so.
In Dear Esther, the soundtrack and visuals help to create an ambient environment which really adds to the story and experience of it, but there is never really any action. You are just walking, or in some cases swimming. That’s all there is to it. When defining a game as a medium of action, it’s easy to see why some people would not consider Dear Esther a game…I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with that, but I recently finished Among The Sleep, and it reminded me a lot of Dear Esther.
Here is a link to a full lets play of the game by a youtuber named markiplier, if any of you are interested in watching it. The game has some very creepy atmosphere, and definitely some scary moments, just as a warning. If you’re easily frightened I might recommend not watching or playing the game. That said, I believe it was an excellent game and would otherwise recommend it.
Spoiler warning, for anyone who would like to view or play the game spoiler free!
If you’d rather not read the below section, then I’ll put this question here – what do you think about this game compared to Dear Esther, if anything?
In this game, you play as a toddler, probably 2 years old or so, and you accompanied by your new teddy bear, fittingly named teddy, find yourselves in a strange, very creepy world where you must collect memories. There are a few shadowy monsters which chase you, and distort your vision when you see them. At the end, you find out that the monsters were really your mother under the influence of alcohol, and that she has been most likely abusing you. You walk out of the door, and your father picks you up as a sort of savior, for a happy ending I suppose, but it was still very shocking and dramatic to find out that the monsters were really just the baby imagining his mother as a monster. All in all the game was a very environmental ambient heavy game, and reminded me of Dear Esther in that way. The main difference, being that there were monsters you had to run from, puzzles to solve, and a death screen that would prompt you to continue. Otherwise I would say the narrative the game is presenting is just as heavy of an issue or perhaps even more so, and it is presented just as expertly as Dear Esther’s story in my opinion.
I think that Every video game is a work of art on some level, but not every work of art is a video game, and this game shows very well what is capable with the medium of video games as story telling devices.
If you’ve played or watched this game, I’d love to discuss it.