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I first heard of this game in the Into The Aether’s 2022 Games of The Year Bonus episode. I would have completely missed this game otherwise, so I am glad I went through the 5+ hours podcast just for this—and the many other games and rambling, of course.
Regardless, I decided to get this game in October this year, a couple months after getting my Nintendo Switch, for some reason, I did not mention anything about it in my monthly summaries of October or November, which is quite a weird thing for me.
To fix this wrong, I decided I may as well write a review about the game while its still fresh in my memory. I literally finished it yesterday, and here are some of my thoughts on it.
Citizen Sleeper is a game featuring TTRPG mechanics, combined with a great story, a fantastic sci-fi setting and a unique set of characters.
You are a Sleeper—a vessel of a person’s brain scan, property of a capitalist corporation in a dystopian future—who just escaped into a lawless station known as The Eye where everyone’s just trying to survive day to day.
The gameplay consists of moving around different locations in the station, making choices, and taking chances. You need energy, you need food, you need money, and you got nothing. Depending on your condition, you can have up to 5 dices per cycle—the station’s equivalent to a day. Each die has a set value that determines the chance of success of the actions you make every day. You meet people who may become friends and help you stay and survive here, as well as people looking for you, tracking you down to give you back to the corporation that you belong to.
The game has different drives, or missions, that will get unlocked as you play and talk to people. There are events and story bits where you have to wait multiple cycles to see what happens next, or where you have a deadline to fulfill a goal. But because of the dice limit, you can only do so much every day, and you can never experience or live through everything—no matter how much you would want that.
In a way this reminds me a lot of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. There’s people who need help, there’s bad things that you need to stop, but you don’t have enough time to do it all. In Majora’s Mask you can go back in time and at least complete all the side quests and know that you did what you can. But there is no time travel hrere—life’s not going to wait for you to be ready.
The amount of dice you get lowers when your body starts to decay, and the only way to stop this is by using stabilizers. This planned obsolescence is made for you to depend on the corporation that owns you, but in a lawless place there’s ways to get around that. However, it is yet another action to take into consideration when you are low on dice rolls.
The art and music of this game are very well done, the sci-fi aesthetic of the overworld is just incredible and quite minimalistic, and the detail of the characters themselves is remarkable, they all look unique, kind of like Star Wars with a mix of cyberpunk, futuristic but retro, messy, and old. When it comes to music, I will say that it provides a sense of ambiance that sounds like, well, space. It hits hard when it matters, but it mostly remains out of the way, kind of like Breath of the Wild, but with synthesizers.
The game is short enough to play multiple times, I think I might do that, but I will probably wait at least half a year before I try it again, I think the game says a lot about current society and the way we live. I don’t know what else to say honestly. I just feel a little emotional because of the way it ended. I feel like I could have done more, but at the same time everything is alright, that’s how life is sometimes.
This is day 95 of #100DaysToOffload
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