“Nothing The God Of Bio-mechanics Wouldn’t Let You Into Heaven For.” – Dr Tyrell, Blade Runner
Developer: Jump Over The Age
Released: 5th May 2022
Platforms: Windows, Mac OSX, Xbox, Nintendo Switch
Available On: Steam Switch Xbox GOG EPIC Store Humble Games
- Captivating rendition of a dystopian, spacefaring humanity.
- Well-written characters that stay consistent, with believable personalities and reactions.
- Interesting blend of resource management, narrative adventure and tabletop roleplaying.
- Choice and consequences feel meaningful, plausible in most interactions.
- Management/survival aspects become too forgiving later on.
- RNG dependency can be brutal in the early phases.
Bugs & Issues
- In rare cases, different interactions may be clicked during ongoing dialogues and overlap incorrectly.
- 32GB RAM
Content & Replay Value
It took me around 11 hours to complete Citizen Sleeper, taking extra time to clear all secondary events and quests I could find. Replay value proves low, as a single character can eventually become proficient in many skills, and clear all the events during the same run.
Is it Worth Buying?
Yes. The price of 20$ is fair for this content amount and quality, while the game itself proves original and well-designed enough to stand out from the ever-growing crowd of generic sci-fi adventures.
An adventure that captivates players with its lore and characters, and keeps them engaged thanks to its experimental, well-designed gameplay system. Not perfect, but far above-average.
Citizen Sleeper – In-Depth Analysis
Premise, Setting & Writing
Woken up with only fragments of memory, you’ll play as a Sleeper – an artificial, sentient construct capable of emulating the human mind. The half-derelict space sprawl of Erlin’s Eye, battered by the aftermath of ‘The Collapse’ will become your home, ripe with opportunities, mysteries and dangers. Inextricable from an ever-decaying body, and hunted by the powerful Essen-Arp megacorp, you’ll have to find your path to salvation… or demise.
Citizen Sleeper succeeds at engineering an original sci-fi setting that feels interesting, vibrant, thrilling to delve into. The Eye’s numerous denizens all have elaborate backstories, plausible motives, and their lives flow, on many occasions, with or without player input – you’re not the center of the world, just another part of it. While these tales act as the core content, it’s regrettable that so few of them actually intertwine, as most of them stay ‘standalone’ from start to end. Moreover, not many of your choices will have an impact on the world as a whole, but rather on groups of individuals at best, single ones mostly. In some situations, I felt that it would’ve been good to have a wider array of choices given the situation at hand, but that wasn’t always so.
The choices and consequences have tangible effects, some of them may very well lead to your demise, or trigger an ending after which there’s no turning back (autosave-only, so no save-scumming for anyone, you’ll have to live with your choices). At times, however, it felt that the main character has a little ‘plot armor’, overcoming situations against hopeless odds just for the sake of the plot – not the norm, however.
Despite three initial classes that seem remarkably diverse, most of the content can be seen all at once, with these specializations granting an initial bonus to certain stats, however, they all boil down to the same thing once you start upgrading more and more using Perk points – there’s no real point in replaying the game with another class, as far as I could tell.
Your deteriorating chassis prompts two fundamental needs that become pivotal for the gameplay loop: Condition and Energy. The first represents your health, while the second, is nutrition. Keeping both of these satisfied is imperative, as significant maluses come into effect as these stats deteriorate – possibly leading to missing events, failure and death.
Days in Citizen Sleeper are called Cycles, each of them assigns one to five dice to you, depending on your Condition – the higher, the better. These dice, valued from 1 (weakest) to 6 (guaranteed success), can be used in most interactions with facilities, NPCs and events throughout the sprawl. Want to work a bar shift? Roll a die. Explore a derelict sector overgrown with alien plants? Roll. Infiltrate a high-security tower? Roll again. There is quite a bit of RNG dependency, Lady Luck can be a harsh mistress especially early on, but as more options and perks open up to usage, this becomes much less of a concern.
Each activity has Positive, Neutral and Negative outcomes, the more powerful the die used is, the higher probability you’ll have for a favorable one. Such actions can be used to gain Chits (currency) essential to buy many useful things, restore your energy in alternative ways, and take part in Critical Events that constitute pivotal points in the story. Negative outcomes will lower your condition, energy, make you lose money or even entirely lock-out quest-lines, in the worst cases. In other happenings, these activities may unlock beneficial structures, positive interactions and other useful things to make your survival more bearable.
At some point you’ll be able to see the complex AI networks running through the station, and engage the cyberspace in various hacking-related activities, many of which are essential in several quests. Be it hacking a mainframe or scrapping a spaceship, you’ll acquire unique items (or parts of them) that you have to figure out how to use, assemble, or process, in order to accomplish your missions, or Drives as the game calls them, which can be tracked one at a time so there’s no mistaking on where to go next. Each drive grants a Perk point, with which you can improve one of the main Statistics, in turn granting unique bonuses and upgrades to used dice in compatible interactions.
Smartly managing your dice, using restorative items efficiently and striking a balance between money-making, quests and cyberspace will be key to making the most of your time. The sense of urgency and impending doom at the core of Citizen Sleeper is also accentuated by time-sensitive events that will expire, or trigger, after a certain amount of Cycles has passed – some of them good, others much less so. The sense of pressure, related to your dying body and hunted status, is conveyed well, even if later on also this becomes milder due to how many great perks and repeatable, beneficial interactions you unlock.
Citizen Sleeper is being exhibited throughout LudoNarraCon 2022 (5th – 9th May). For more LudoNarraCon coverage take a look at the following articles: