Citizen Sleeper assessment: A cyberpunk RPG with an emotional core

This lo-fi role-playing sport set aboard a decaying house station sees you play as a Sleeper, a human thoughts in a robotic physique. Multiple storylines to discover create a incredible sci-fi tapestry, finds Jacob Aron


5 May 2022

Citizen Sleeper is a lo-fi cyberpunk RPG set aboard a decaying space station called Erlin’s Eye

Citizen Sleeper is a lo-fi cyberpunk RPG set aboard a decaying house station referred to as Erlin’s Eye.

Fellow Traveller Games

As I’ve written beforehand on this column, along with being New Scientist’s resident online game guru, I’m an enormous fan of tabletop roleplaying video games (TTRPGs) like Dungeons & Dragons. With no must conjure up graphics or contact a line of laptop code, in a TTRPG, you’re solely restricted by you and your mates’ shared creativeness.

Pleasingly, video video games are more and more borrowing concepts from TTRPGs. The newest is Citizen Sleeper, a lo-fi cyberpunk RPG set aboard a decaying house station referred to as Erlin’s Eye. You play as a Sleeper, a human thoughts in a robotic physique. Wiped of their authentic reminiscences, Sleepers normally function slaves for the megacorporation that owns them, however you’ve gotten escaped and wish to search out your personal path in life.

Like a TTRPG, a lot of the sport takes place in your creativeness. You don’t navigate a 3D world, as an alternative interacting by way of location factors dotted round a map of the house station. These may current you with a possibility for conversations, informed by way of textual content in a way just like Disco Elysium, one other TTRPG-inspired sport, and charming character photos. Or you can be given a selection of duties to carry out so as to obtain your objectives.

The first precedence within the sport is survival. Your robotic physique is constructed with deliberate obsolescence, that means it would slowly decay until you will get remedy that’s solely supplied by the megacorps – discovering another provider is an early purpose. You additionally wants meals for energy, and initially the one method to pay for it’s by incomes cryptocurrency by working in a wide range of jobs, like bartending or shifting packages.

The sport operates in cycles, the equal of a day on the house station, and initially of every cycle the state of your physique and starvation determines the variety of cube you obtain, as much as a complete of 5. These have random values from 1 to six and can be utilized to hold out actions like working or exploring the house station, with increased values growing the opportunity of a optimistic consequence. Once you’ve gotten used all of your cube, that’s it till a brand new cycle begins, limiting how a lot you possibly can obtain every day.

Longer objectives are doable because of clocks at every location, a sport mechanic popularised by the TTRPG Blades within the Dark. These are circles divided into segments, with tougher or prolonged duties equivalent to increased subdivisions. Tending bar may steadily replenish a clock that means that you can make mates with the proprietor, for instance.

As you make your approach in Erlin’s Eye, your choices explode to the purpose the place you’ll by no means handle to do every thing, however juggling clocks means that you can pursue the tales and characters that you’re most fascinated about, weaving collectively a incredible sci-fi tapestry. The sport gives some course with prompt objectives that, as soon as accomplished, permit you to put money into expertise equivalent to engineering, however I discovered it extra pleasing to let my pursuits information me.

Without spoiling an excessive amount of, my private narrative was extremely transferring, nearly like a Becky Chambers novel. Having received myself able the place I used to be capable of survive fortunately cycle to cycle, I cut up my time between engaged on constructing a colony ship, the place I met a person and his daughter, and making an attempt to develop a ship restore enterprise with a associate.

A twist within the first story left me distraught and looking for solutions, to the purpose the place I didn’t dedicate sufficient time to the enterprise. With the clock ticking down on an enormous restore job, I realised all of the work I had put in had been wasted as a result of there was no approach I may end it. Worried that I had completely failed within the sport, a dangerous, last-minute probability for redemption appeared, resulting in a satisfying and emotional ending.

Once the credit roll, the sport enables you to return to only earlier than the top and make completely different choices. I nonetheless had a lot of the station to discover, however making an attempt these various choices instantly felt incorrect. After all, what’s the level in selecting, if to not step away from one path and on to a different? Like a TTRPG, Citizen Sleeper let me inform my story, and I wouldn’t wish to change it.

Citizen Sleeper
Jump Over the Age
PC, Xbox One and Series X/S, Nintendo Switch

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