Citizen Sleeper is a tabletop-inspired narrative RPG released on Xbox Cloud on May 5th 2022 and . The fact that I am reviewing it today simply means that I have been sleeping on Citizen Sleeper. Was I right in doing so? Find out in this Citizen Sleeper review.
Welcome aboard Erlin’s Eye
Citizen Sleeper is set on Erlin’s Eye, a ruined space station that is home to thousands of people trying to survive on the edges of an interstellar capitalist society. You are a sleeper, a digitized human consciousness in an artificial body, owned by a corporation that wants you back. Thrust among the unfamiliar and colorful inhabitants of the Eye, you need to build friendships, earn your keep, and navigate the factions of this strange metropolis, if you hope to survive to see the next cycle.
It almost feels like Citizen Sleeper takes place in a sci-fi Dungeons and Dragons campaign. When starting up the game, you choose between three classes: Extractor, Operator or Machinist. They each have a different skillset but the choice is not game-changing by the end. During the game, you gain skill points which you can then spend in whichever area you like, so you could eventually be proficient in all the required skills. Each day (or cycle as the game calls them), you roll a number of random dice rolls (d6) that you can then spend on the activities within the station. You start off with simple jobs around the station, mostly getting to know the people around you and coming to terms with the fact that you are not only being hunted…Your body is slowly degrading.
The corporate entity that you are running from did not like its property getting away without any consequences so your body will continue to degrade until you can find a medicine to reset the condition. This requires meeting the right people, gaining their trust and oftentimes paying the right amount. And as your body degrades, this also affects your ability to do other things, as the amount of dice rolls you get daily will be limited based on your condition.
The gameplay is mostly text-based. You decide between a few dialogue options that decide the flow of the conversation. But the characters that you speak with are all illustrated. This also goes for Erlin’s eye, the space station, which looks great as you move around it. The representation of the characters also changes as the story progresses, so you’re not stuck looking at the same image throughout the story. It works well enough for the game and I found that I was focused enough on the story to not worry about the graphics too much. That doesn’t mean the graphics were bad, they were quite good actually. Just that they were rightfully secondary to the story, which is fine for a game like Citizen Sleeper.
Storytelling at its core
The biggest strength of the game is the story. It starts off with the threat of being hunted, which brings a sense of urgency to the gameplay and to the interactions that you have. People might not trust a sleeper, and you will need to convince them to harbor a fugitive ‘entity’. This drives you forward and has you meeting all sorts of people from different walks of life. Some of them will be friendly, others might be looking to make some money off of your misfortune. You are given multiple options during the conversation, although I never really found the decisions to make much of a difference unfortunately. Decisions you make near the end decide what ending you get to see. But most of the smaller decisions you make end up making little difference.
I still enjoyed the story quite a lot. There are all sorts of different people on the space station and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know their story. I found myself caring for most of them. I noticed that the story of Lem and Mina ended up being the most appealing to me, so I did what I could to help them out.
Citizen Sleeper has three endings, each with two or three variations, depending on your choice. That means that there is definitely some replayability to the game. There are certainly a lot of directions you can go with the conversations that you have. Along with the other tasks that can be done on Erlin’s eye, you can spend around 10 hours with each playthrough. The game also has three DLC’s in the form of FLUX, REFUGE and PURGE. They expand on the story and increase the game time even further. I noticed that the option to start FLUX was indicating that I should start it late in the story. Which eventually meant that I was already closing up my story without even getting into the DLC. If this transition was a bit more natural, I would’ve probably gotten a bit more playtime out of the game.
Citizen Sleeper is a fun hybrid of a visual novel and an RPG that makes you think about subjects like ‘home’, ‘belonging’ & ‘friendship’. The dialogue options seem to be less significant than they appear, but the story still remains very strong. The branching narratives had me locked into the game and I finished the first playthrough in just a few dedicated sessions. I will be returning to the game to focus more on the DLC and I look forward to Citizen Sleeper 2. I was sleeping on the first, but I will be getting the next game as soon as it comes out.
- Great story
- Multiple endings
- Good graphics
- Dialogue options less influential than hoped
- When to start the DLC was a bit unclear
- Diverse cast could use a few more bad guys
That was it for our Citizen Sleeper review. Citizen Sleeper is available through Boosteroid, GeForce Now and PlayStation Plus Premium. You can follow our Twitter account to stay up to date with the latest changes.