HomeReviewsGame ReviewsCitizen Sleeper Review: an amazing sci-fi RPG

Citizen Sleeper Review: an amazing sci-fi RPG

Published on

- Advertisement -

A wonderful minimalist RPG about redemption and dignity, set in the ruins of interplanetary capitalism.


Syd Mead, the historic illustrator of Blade Runner, he liked to define science fiction as “reality ahead of its time” – and it is precisely this conception that has given the whole genre all the charm it is cloaked in. When literature, cinema and comics stopped fantasizing about space exploration and the discovery of the mysteries of the universe, in fact, they made those stories collide with their contemporary reality.

Here, the fascination aroused by the boundless space was accompanied by disturbing thoughts on how governments and corporations could have appropriated it for profit, regardless of the impact of their actions on the lives of ordinary people. The last period has seen a great rediscovery of cyberpunk and science fiction, which however have been explored in a sometimes superficial way and often only from an aesthetic and non-content point of view.

citizen Sleeper signed by Jump Over the Age and published by Fellow Traveler, is an RPG that is part of this rediscovery process but this time with a narrative that goes to recover all the fears and fears typical of the genre, to then give them the right space within the story. Among other things, the adventure breaks away from the exaltation of the cyberpunk aesthetic as an end in itself to put the cold and ruthless analysis of current events back at the center of the discourse, projecting it into the future. Not a celebration of the big rainy cities covered with neon signs but the omen of one of the many possible futures, a story that contains within itself a myriad of micro-events of loneliness, redemption and dignity. Citizen Sleeper is digital empathy made available to anyone with a Game Pass subscription or Switch at hand.

Interplanetary capitalism

The Citizen Sleeper universe is our universe. Erlin’s Eye is a giant space station adrift in deep space, a sort of docking in the middle of nowhere in which a portion of humanity has decided to spend their existence. Playing as an unnamed sleeper, the player finds himself at the controls of an artificial body inside Erlin’s Eye, bewildered by both its inorganic nature and the extreme size of the structure.

What is a sleeper? Basically we are talking about an ex-human who has sold himself to a corporation, the Essen-Arp in this case, in exchange for an artificial envelope capable of hosting the emulated consciousness to be employed as labor somewhere in deep space.

This is the world of Citizen Sleeper, a reality in which large companies can deprive people of their bodies and own the machines that house their conscience. And it is frankly scary.

review-an-amazing-sci-fi-RPG.webp.webp?ssl=1" alt="" />

As soon as you come to your senses you are overwhelmed by the flows of consciousness, with the memory of a daring escape from the control meshes of the Essen-Arp that comes back to the protagonist’s mind. Basically we are outcasts without a home and with a price on the head, beached millions of kilometers from planet Earth, and strangers in a space station in orbit who knows where.

As if that were not enough, however, the synthetic body we are in possession of it has been designed in such a way that it will deteriorate over time, and the only way to prevent it from shutting down is to access medicines that are the exclusive property of the company that supplied it to us. Definitely rare goods, in short. Our body is their good and this form of planned obsolescence is a sort of guarantee against theft. The first few days (or, as they are called on the Eye, cycles) make two things clear: you can’t survive alone and you can’t do it without a penny in your pocket. Erlin’s Eye opens before us Sleeper as a sort of miniature city-state in which to look for ways to make a fortune and create a new identity. Here, therefore, that Citizen Sleeper shows its cards clearly for the first time.

The roll of the dice

Citizen Sleeper is a narrative RPG that closely resumes the setting popularized by ZA / UM with Disco Elysium – in case you missed it, here the review of Disco Elysium – and that does not hide a strong fascination for RPG tabletop. The key to the success of the work, however, is the minimalism of the gameplay and, above all, of its setting. Jump Over the Age in fact comes from the publication of In Other Waters, whose strength lay precisely in the categorical refusal to tell about oneself in images and instead to exploit the most powerful hardware in the world – the brain – to give shape to the scenarios.

Citizen Sleeper works more or less the same way: there is no possibility to observe its streets and buildings from the inside, you can only frame them from the distance and imagine their outlines, aided by the wonderful writing of the texts that suggest their main features. Take for example the first exploration of the covered market of Erlin’s Eye: we are prevented from viewing the ravines but thanks to the text those spaces come to life in a very evocative way. As we said, even the playful dough is extremely simple in its conception. There are two indicators to keep under control, that of the integrity of our body and that of energy. The first symbolizes the degree of decay of the synthetic shell, the second, on the other hand, the level of hunger and fatigue. Integrity also determines the amount of activities that can be performed during a single cycle, tasks whose outcome is determined by the roll of up to five six-sided dice.

As the bar progressively decreases consequently the maximum number of actions that can be carried out in the duration of the various cycles will decrease. This on the one hand gives the gameplay a rather important strategic nuance, thus encouraging us to plan the days in relation to the number of available actions, the outcome of the roll of the dice and our survival needs, and on the other it creates a sense of d ‘ urgency connected to the events to be carried out. Every morning you wake up and all the available dice are rolled automatically: it is then up to the player to decide how to use them.

With six as a result, for example, you can decide to use it to carry out a dangerous action without running into unpleasant consequences, while the more modest shots can be used to carry out more worldly actions. In addition, the less fortunate throws do not always constitute a penalty, since a component of the gameplay linked to hacking has been foreseen in which the lower dice have a considerable importance.

A living world

Exploring Erlin’s Eye is a wonderful experience, especially thanks to the quality of the writing of the work. The game is only available in English but benefits from a qualitatively stupendous narrative sector. Citizen Sleeper gathers on the inside an infinity of beautifully illustrated and characterized characters, each of which is tied to a unique storyline. These are small events of daily resistance, extraordinary in their ordinariness, in which the protagonists try – at times desperately – to improve their own existence.

There are those who ended up on Erlin’s Eye in search of fortune, those who spend their days behind a street food stand and feed on the stories told by customers, those who are fleeing the control of corporations such as Essen-Arp and those who instead, he sees the key to a happy and fulfilling life in the reconstruction and modernization of his own small bar.

As our synthetic and nameless character, we are called to interact with them, to establish relationships of collaboration and friendship and to dive into relationships that could culminate in sensational betrayals to our detriment. You have to choose who to trust and, as in real life, it’s not that simple.

In short, these lives cohabit the same space and, even without intertwining, they aspire to their own realization, perhaps unattainable. Of course, it could be said that in some cases the narration is actually a little too didactic but in reality it is an aspect that is easily forgiven thanks to the extreme delicacy with which the lives of the inhabitants of the Eye are delineated.

In other words, both in terms of the characterization of characters and environments, and in terms of atmospheres, Citizen Sleeper is a breath of fresh air in the contemporary panorama of videogame science fiction, much more interested in the story of the ordinary. Moreover, everything is framed by an atmospheric electronic soundtrack, capable of embellishing the dreamy atmosphere of Erlin’s Eye, with all its contradictions and difficulties.

Of empathy and second chances

Citizen Sleeper is exactly this: a video game that celebrates the small daily challenges of the least, the poorest and the forgotten, without censoring in any way abuses and prevarications. It’s hard not to fall in love with humanity clinging to Erlin’s Eye or not to be devoured by the curiosity to discover the recent and remote past of the station.

His approach is able to give small things a gigantic relevance: it happens to find himself with a smile on his face for the satisfaction due to having finally reached his food independence, after having finally set up a mushroom cultivation, or to virtually cling to that bartender who fought tooth and nail for his club. Erlin’s Eye is an interplanetary working class neighborhood, with its internal dynamics, its figures of reference, the ill repute and kindness of those neighbors ready to help each other without any personal gain. It is the township and the railing. Perhaps the best place to rebuild a life and try to start from scratch with a new identity, almost as if it embodies the very concept of second chance.

Citizen Sleeper is a video game that is good for the soul, because behind its world teeming with life, the music that evokes the busy and melancholy atmospheres and its intrigues, there is a very important message of resistance, dignity and hope. It is difficult to ask more of a work of this kind, because being able to play with the illusion of building a second identity, freeing oneself from the chains and constraints and living a life worth living is one of the most powerful forms of entertainment that you can meet, whatever the ending obtained at the end of the game. Seeing is believing.

- Advertisement -

Latest articles

How to know if your Google account has been hacked

As we well know, the issue of cybersecurity is something quite serious that can...

¿Sin planes para este verano? ¡Zambúllete en la lectura a través de Enrique Segura!

¡Por fin llegan las vacaciones! Y, con ellas, la gran época de disfrutar a...

Mobile apps to learn karate and practice martial arts

Emerged in the sixteenth century, karate is a traditional martial art whose foundations were...

death of a youtuber

The death of a youtuber may seem, at first, something of the most normal...

More like this

So you can connect your AirPods to your Mac and use Handoff

All Apple users know that the company likes to have all its devices connected...

45 iconic movies in a minute: the viral tribute to film history

In difficult times for movie premieres, and in which millions of people chose to...

How to make TikTok videos with photos from your gallery

TikTok is the fashion application and its videos have become the daily life of...