As you take on your role as Sleeper, who has recently escaped a controlling corporation and is on their way to The Eye (a ringed space station), you start to wonder what kind of experience is ahead of you. You see, Citizen Sleeper is like no other game I have played before, not only in its unique graphical style but also in the game mechanics itself.

If, like me, you remember the classic choose your own adventure books from way back when or the text adventure games from the Spectrum days, then you will recognise many aspects of Citizen Sleeper. There are no fancy 3D worlds to explore here; everything is told through text and exploration. This means there is a mountain of words to read, but unlike games like Kentucky Route Zero, I was found to be engaged, interested, and constantly wowed by what I experienced.

I feel I need to explain some aspects of the visuals for you to truly grasp the concept of Citizen Sleeper. There are two main screens you will interact with; the first is whenever you speak to a NPC. The main text is housed on the right side of the screen, and the left shows a simple background with a lovingly drawn static model of the character you are interacting with. You can also select certain options to steer the conversation down different paths with different outcomes that will have many different consequences. The second screen is the space station itself, which you view from space. As The Eye is a ring, you can explore the station by rotating it until you arrive at the desired destination, which is marked by protruding markers. It’s here that you can initiate a conversation or take part in the many tasks needed to complete storylines. It’s very difficult to explain in words, but I hope the accompanying screenshots do the job better!

I have never played a game that allows you to let your imagination run so wild. The way Gareth Damian Martin has written this game is incredible. Full of descriptive actions the characters take, the way he helps you build this world and the ideas of the people living here in your head, and the way he has woven the many storylines, is just top-level stuff. You will find yourself caring about certain people and hating others, and you will connect with Sleeper themselves as you go through this journey of discovery together as you both learn how things work on The Eye, the dangers it holds, and the discoveries you make along the way. 

These emotions will play heavily into your choices and the way you steer the stories. All your interactions have an effect, whether good or bad; it’s up to you. But Gareth hasn’t made it easy for you, constantly making you doubt people’s intentions, wondering if they mean what they say or are just trying to get one over you for their own gain. It really messes with your head and is sometimes thrilling to find out if you judged that person correctly or not.

But what about gameplay? I hear you cry. Well, I could go deep into the mechanics of it all, but honestly, the website does a much better job than I, so please give it a look. But what I will say is that it is an incredibly rich, deep, and innovative system that works very well in the RPG landscape. You will end up getting jobs to earn money, buy scrap metal from traders, and help build star ships. Citizen Sleeper borrows elements from not only choose your own adventure books but also tabletop board games with its dice mechanics, which serve as the main hook for completing tasks. Once you have used up all your dice, you must end the day (a cycle in-game) to regain the energy you’ve spent and refresh your dice pool. You start with five dice, but as time goes on, you start to lose access to them one at a time, until eventually you are left with just one. It is a very cool, intriguing system with a complex story on how you refresh your dice pool attached to it. Other gameplay mechanics involve a skill map to unlock new skills and the ability to access the digital world of The Eye, where you can use your dice to hack systems to gain information for a variety of different parties, including the two factions that live on The Eye as well as many different individuals.



I don’t want to say much else about Citizen Sleeper; I want it to surprise and delight you as much as it did me. Through its wonderful graphics, gameplay mechanics, and phenomenal writing, it will grab hold of you and not let go long after you have finished with it. I implore you to give it a go, and if you have access to Game Pass, then you have a great opportunity, and hopefully you will also feel a warm tap on the shoulder for a job well done.

With the recent free DLC adding extra content, it’s a great time to give it a go, and it is very much worthy of receiving the full five stars. 

Citizen Sleeper is out now on Xbox Game Pass, Nintendo Switch and PC.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch