Citizen Sleeper Review (Switch eShop)

Citizen Sleeper puts you in the role of a synthetic robotic person – called a Sleeper – who wakes up on a dirty space station teeming with all sorts of morally and legally gray activities and organizations. Your character has escaped from working in a colony for a megacorporation that literally owns their body and now has to contend with the consequences of this breakup for freedom.

Not only has the corporation hired bullies to find and bring you back, but your body depends on a supplement produced exclusively by the company. To survive, you’ll have to work in shipyards, trade in scavengers, visit doctors in slums, and make tough decisions while looking for a way out of a station.

The story is something like a knitted story, which intertwines several deep sub-plots that develop more culture and the hierarchy becomes in extended task lines. One subplot gives you the task of helping a mercenary repair her ship. Another conspires with a reasonable automaton to destroy a fake AI program.

You don’t have to follow every line of tasks in the game – in fact, you can’t – and there are branching paths where you can choose to either stay loyal to your tense allies or stab them in the back to improve your position. This makes Citizen Sleeper ready to play again; the average run should only take you four or five hours, but there are a few endings you can get depending on who you teamed up with and the order in which you did the tasks.

Gaming is less about ‘playing’ than about constantly managing thin resources. Questlines and various world events follow the ‘cycles’ that go through every time you go to sleep and each cycle will result in your body breaking down a little more and your character getting a little closer to starvation. Each cycle will also bring with it a series of random rolls of dice that you can then spend on any activity in the station.

As your body breaks down, you will have fewer dice, which means you have fewer things you can do in a given cycle. Part of the excitement of the experience is making difficult calls every day about what to do next; sometimes you have to sell a friend to make sure you don’t starve the next day, and your decisions later can have surprising consequences.

The art style features some extraordinarily well-drawn images of your friends and enemies as they talk to you, really selling the aesthetics of dirty cyberpunk world developer Jump Over The Age (from the fame of In Other Waters). Meanwhile, your decision-making process is always accompanied by a gloomy synthwave soundtrack that is equally hopeless and intriguing. The atmosphere is, therefore, superb; Citizen Sleeper immerses you perfectly in this dark and diverse community.

If we were to mention one complaint, it would be that this is not a game that plays so nicely with a controller. It’s perfectly helpful, but navigating between nodes on the map is consistently annoying and sometimes disorienting, and there’s no touch screen support. It’s not a game or breaking a deal, but it should definitely be kept in mind if you have a computer where you could play this.

Citizen Sleeper would give a strong recommendation to anyone who loves Disco Elysium or any general role-playing game with a strong emphasis on the role. Synthwave soundtrack, strong writing and high pressure game make this game that will be hard to dismiss when you embark on it.

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