Good character design in a horror game can be just as important as the monsters coming after the player. Over the years we’ve moved from regular people to supposed one-man armies making it harder to feel scared.
But today’s spotlight for the kickstarter: Among the Sleep, looks to take things back in terms of character design with one of the most vulnerable characters yet — a two year old child.
The concept for Among the Sleep was playing as a 2 year old who waked up to a nightmare where his house has become distorted and his mother has gone missing.
From watching footage of the alpha build, the controls, viewpoint and puzzle design all take into account that you play as someone who could barely walk. You could crawl around or stand up to reach higher objects such as door knobs. In case of an emergency you can run for a short distance before falling down, again due to a lack of motor skills.
An underrated concept in my opinion is getting perspective right between the player and the world around them. In many cases the player’s height seems to change as objects become bigger or smaller depending on their position.
So far from the footage, the designers of Among the Sleep are doing a good job of keeping everything tall and menacing as what a 2 year old would perceive how the world around them is. As the game goes on, the player will move from their altered house to other menacing environments.
Early puzzle design for the game so far was about the player dealing with the obvious height disadvantage of the child to get around obstacles and open doors. I also liked how the designers made a conscious decision to keep the child’s body in the frame of view when they are looking down, climbing or having a shadow cast.
At this point the game did show enemies in the form of nightmarish creatures, but I’m not sure at this time if this is like Amnesia’s style where there was no penalty for getting caught.
I love how the designers have said that they are basing the design of the game on nightmares they have all had as a child. As I can go on record saying that they are pretty accurate to what I had as a child. I still have disturbing nightmares by the way; it’s just that now the perspective stays correct.
The developers are looking for $200 k and at the time of this post are just over half-way there. Given the lack of horror games coming from the mainstream designers, seeing a possible new take on the genre has my interest.
With the game released after the time of this post, you can read my thoughts on Among the Sleep in my review.