Citizen Sleeper Review: The Good Life is Just a Dice Roll Away

The Citizen Sleeper is a dice game that will challenge you to create your own life. The key difference between the game and other games like it is that rolls in the sleeper are always random. You can’t play by strategy, but instead have to rely on luck and fate as you attempt to build a better tomorrow with different combinations of skillsets

A ring known as Erlin’s Eye may be found in the furthest regions of space, amid the likes of corpos and bounty hunters. It is shattered and splintered, yet it sustains life. It’s your life. In Citizen Sleeper, you play as a refugee from another planet who has come to the Eye to establish a new life. This is the flame that lights Jump Over the Age’s cyberpunk RPG, which was created by solitary developer Gareth Damien Martin with the support of artist Guillaume Singelin and musician Amos Roddy.

This revolutionary role-playing game is based on recent tabletop role-playing games. Citizen Sleeper has a lot of systems, but if you get over that, you’ll discover a complex sci-fi universe full with scrappy, charming individuals. 

The Good Life is Just a Dice Roll Away in Citizen Sleeper

Rolling dice and seeing meters fill are at the heart of Citizen Sleeper. The tension and on-the-fly decision-making that make Citizen Sleeper into a sci-fi RPG that weaves numerous cyberpunk genres together within an unified universe aren’t conveyed by that description. It’s even more astounding since you don’t get to view much of that space; most of Citizen Sleeper’s environment is conveyed via text.  

You are an emulation of a human who inhabits a machine known as a Sleeper in this universe. Someone’s consciousness was sold to a business, and you are the workhorse they built with a duplicate of that human’s intellect housed within a robotic body. Even though you’ve escaped your life of slavery, you still have to deal with the negative consequences of having your body owned by a corporation.  

Every morning, you’ll be greeted by a fresh cycle, which includes a dice roll and two falling meters. One of them needs a specific (and costly) antidote called Stabilizer, which you must keep up with via meals and other energy-recovering activities.

It is the valuable resource you must juggle all of your other resources to collect during the first two-thirds of Citizen Sleeper. To do so, you’ll need to spend dice on odd tasks throughout town in order to make enough money to live. The moment-to-moment gameplay is driven by this balancing act. In fact, Citizen Sleeper refers to its excursions as Drives, a stylistic flourish typical of the captivating language that runs throughout. 

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You may spend your dice in a variety of ways by travelling from node to node on the map, such as conducting tasks or hacking. There are three potential consequences for an action: good, neutral, or negative. Which dice you roll determines the chance of each occurrence. If you roll a 5, you have a 50/50 chance of landing on neutral or positive. If you roll a 3, your chances are 25/50/25. Stat points are used to calculate action bonuses.

Hacking operates in a unique way. When the Eye is opened, you may observe modules that accept certain dice numbers in hacking mode. It’s a clever way to use your low-value dice, adding value to even traditionally “terrible” roles. 

Citizen Sleeper’s numerous clocks are filled with positive and indifferent consequences. The clock system is one of many unique and intriguing systems that can be found in TTRPGs. To advance a clock, you may need to repeat an activity several times, whereas other clocks will tick down. When a clock strikes twelve, you never know what’s going to happen next, which adds to the sensation of dread and worry.

Clocks, like all other mechanics in Citizen Sleeper, are both thematic and mechanical. The Working Class is terrified that you won’t be able to finance the next medical emergency. As you cross your fingers hoping a dice roll will go your way, or when the final red tick fills in on the clock ticking down to “something” scary, they are passed on to you. 

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Citizen Sleeper is best played on a PC, and the only significant gripe I have is using a gamepad to navigate the map and menus. Moving to the node you desire on Xbox (where many will likely check out Citizen Sleeper through Game Pass) is sometimes inaccurate, resulting in a lot of fidgeting about between tasks. This is especially noticeable in the Drives and Skills menus, which both seem to be designed for a mouse interface. In these menus, I regularly experienced issues that caused me to navigate both the menu and the map at the same time. 

Citizen Sleeper is a dialogue-heavy role-playing game about managing your resources and making decisions, all in the sake of moving the story along. Comparisons to Disco Elysium are a bit too simple — and, to be honest, Citizen Sleeper is a more imaginative use of dice — but it’s not a terrible point of comparison. Both games feature superb writing that focuses on telling a tale while also developing mechanics via player choices rather than standard fail situations. 

The amazing character art helps to portray the cyberpunk picture that the writing often conjures. The many humans — ahem, sentient creatures — are shown in realistic and elegant pictures. Everyone is effortlessly stylish while yet allowing their personality to shine through in their design. I was forced to watch almost every tale in order to learn more about the individuals, even if I found them way too late.

The clean minimalist design is topped off with Amos Roddy’s outstanding synthwave music. During dialogue-heavy passages, music is often employed to transmit ideas and feelings.  

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Many of the character-driven stories develop and interweave, resulting to a variety of outcomes. Some of the moments are just bittersweet, but Citizen Sleeper is the sum of its parts. There is no overarching plot. Instead, the threads you see and which ending you view first are determined by what you choose to concentrate on and how you spend your resources. 

On the Eye, you could run with Sabine, a slum doctor who is in serious difficulty with one of the local gangs. On the ring, you can come across Lem and his daughter Mina, who are struggling to make ends meet in poverty. There’s also a sentient vending machine, which, although it seems ludicrous at first, develops into one of the game’s most poignant themes. 

Each story develops its characters while also delving into global political themes. The working class is left out to dry in the power battle over Erlin’s Eye between local groups and galactic corporations. The sub-genres covered by Citizen Sleeper’s dozen or so story lines are impressively diverse. Each tale line is unique and important, from a William-Gibson-inspired hacking journey to more muted human dramas with sci-fi twists. 

For Citizen Sleeper’s minimalist approach to function, the writing must do the heavy lifting in terms of both characterisation and world-building. Thankfully, it does, and it is certain of its decisions. 

It took me around 40 cycles to see an ending, and you will be able to return to the world regardless of whatever one you chose or stumble into initially. By the time I tied up all my loose ends, I had played for about 60 cycles. You’ll be pleased you did, too, since each narrative has a satisfying emotional or intellectual conclusion. 

The Bottom Line in the Citizen Sleeper Review 

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Pros 

  • Despite the fact that the majority of the game is text, it creates a captivating cyberpunk environment.
  • The creative usage of dice creates a one-of-a-kind gaming experience.
  • Rich plots and well-drawn characters.
  • A music that you may enjoy both within and outside of the game.

Cons

Citizen Sleeper is a unique cyberpunk role-playing game that understands the genre’s key concepts better than other AAA efforts. Its harsh post-capitalist society is built on the basis of some of the greatest descriptive language I’ve seen in a video game, with emotionally sympathetic (and really cool) characters. The only exception is that if you can, play using a mouse and keyboard. 

Citizen Sleeper remains new, stressful, and interesting throughout its 6- to 8-hour run length, thanks to systems inspired by modern tabletop RPGs. Balancing your actions, resources, and narrative development is a delicate balancing act that becomes more engaging as you go further into this fantastic sci-fi universe. 

[Note: This evaluation was conducted using the Game Pass edition of Citizen Sleeper.]

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