Citizen Sleeper (Switch) Review
After what seems like a lifetime travelling the stillness of space you reach Erlin’s Eye. A refuge for those escaping the clutches of a capitalistic sytem gone dystopian. As a Sleeper, the emulated mind of a body long-lost, you’ll have to work twice as hard to survive on this space station, let alone gain your freedom. But you’ve few other options. Go, Sleeper.
Citizen Sleeper is the sophormoric game from Jump Over The Age, a studio led solely by British developer Gareth Damian Martin. After the release of In Other Waters in 2020, Citizen Sleeper follows suit as a similarly text-driven adventure in a world brimming with life, though very different mechanically.
Inspired by your classic tabletop role-playing games (TTRPG), Citizen Sleeper incorporates many of the staples that define the genre. Dice rolls, character classes, attributes, skills and turn-based actions are all present, but with unique twists here and there. You’ll spend your cycles – Citizen Sleeper speak for turns – chatting up the inhabitants of the station, attempting tasks with dice rolls for a cash reward, and juggling a few ever-declining meters, all while dodging an impending doom or two.
The ways in which the storylines unfurl, especially ones involving these ‘dooms’ is Citizen Sleepers greatest strength. Numerous times I was cetain I’d foresaw a ‘game over’ on the horizon, only for Citizen Sleeper to throw me a curveball and send me on another tangent. The game’s ability to double your investment in its world as you have another near miss with death is really quite brilliant.
Citizen Sleeper features a text-heavy interface, along with a minimalistic artstyle that may seem intimidating at first for those unversed with this kinda game. With a generous helping of meters, timers and quests to manage, most of which is conveyed through text, Citizen Sleeper does seem to have a tough exterior. But spend a little time here and you’ll be dice-rolling like a pro to see your Sleeper’s story through.
There’s some nasty bugs on release unfortunately, and I experienced two soft-locks within my first hour of play. I think this arose from early navigation troubles and pressing the wrong buttons on the wrong screens, but as I learnt how to play this problem dissipated quickly. Still, be on the lookout for this issue as you learn the ropes.
Citizen Sleeper is rich with ideas and atmosphere, and loves to tease you into its world. Don’t be put off by the text-heavy gameplay if you enjoy a dystopian sci-fi setting with solid worldbuilding and some tight role-play mechanics.
+ Top-notch sci-fi storytelling
+ An engaging TTRPG system translated very well into a video game
+ Simple yet elegant artstyle with great character portraits
- Unfortunate soft-locking bugs
- The text-heavy gameplay definitely won't appeal to everyone