Most RPGs are based on two basic foundations. The axis of gameplay in these is usually combat, and choices affecting the story are made by selecting the appropriate dialogue options. The inconspicuous Citizen Sleeper is completely different. We will not experience any combat, and although there is plenty of dialogue, it is not the dialogue that will decide the fate of our hero. Simple mechanics known from board games are responsible for most things
- Citizen Sleeper is an unassuming cyberpunk sci-fi game in which we play as an android inhabiting a space station on the periphery of space
- The game has no combat, but has very interesting gameplay mechanics familiar from board games. Most of the important decisions are not made during dialogues, but by ‘investing’ the available resources
- This title gives a huge amount of freedom in creating the fate of our hero. It is up to us to decide what we do on the station, who we interact with and what our main objective is
In Citizen Sleeper, we play the role of a conscious android who, escaping from a powerful corporation, lands on a space station on the periphery of the inhabited universe. In order to survive, we have to, among other things, earn money, get food, buy medicines and also get rid of the implant, which attracts bounty hunters sent by the corporation to our head. How we complete all these objectives, however, is already up to us. It is up to us to decide where we go to work, who we make friends with, or how we remove the dangerous transmitter.
Citizen Sleeper is a full-fledged text-based RPG, which, however, unlike games in the visual novel genre, does not rely solely on dialogue choices. Instead, it uses resource management mechanics familiar from many popular board games.
At the beginning of each day of our stay at the station, we are given a number of hexahedral dice whose values are randomly generated. Our task, in turn, is to allocate them to the activities available in the game. We can devote one dice to working at the scrapyard to earn some currency, and another to going out to the bar to interact with the locals. Then there is the management of money, experience points or health levels. We can’t forget to eat or take special medicines, otherwise the number of available dice will drop and our robot will be captured by a ruthless corporation.
It is by choosing the activities in which we ‘invest’ that we create our lives on the station. We decide who we will meet and befriend, how we will avoid captivity and what our life’s purpose will ultimately be. Citizen Sleeper gives so much freedom in directing the fate of the protagonist that I began to seriously wonder if other digital RPGs really deserved to be included in the same genre! On top of all this, the dialogues are extremely well-written and elaborate, during which we also make a huge number of decisions, perhaps less significant but nevertheless important.
Citizen Sleeper is certainly not a game for everyone. The lack of combat and large amounts of text will probably put off many players. However, if you are looking for a well-written RPG that actually gives you the opportunity to role-play, rather than just selecting dialogue options, then this is the game for you. This title should also appeal to all fans of good science fiction and cyberpunk. With great dialogue and amazing music, it perfectly captures the overwhelming, bleak atmosphere of a crumbling space station.
For me, Citizen Sleeper is the real revelation of this year and probably the best and most original role-playing game since the release of Disco Elysium. It’s worth giving it a chance, especially as it’s currently available ‘free’ to any Game Pass subscriber.