Citizen Sleeper is a role-playing game where you roll dice to support the life of a digitized conscience imprinted in an artificial body, doesn’t really sound all that special but for those who’ve played citizen sleeper the game is much more immersive once you start playing it than it sounds on paper at least that’s what the general consensus on the internet is.
The game is set in a dystopian sci-fi future where an interplanetary capitalist society runs dominant. You play as a sleeper, a sleeper is a digitized conscience living in a frail synthetic body, you sold your conscience to a mega corporation that paid for it and now owns it to use in an artificial body that works for them, however you run away and the suits want you back now, they’re gunning for you and you’ve escaped and stowed away on a circular space station, naturally you’re miffed at the real you for selling your mind and soul for a quick buck but you are where you are now and the next step is to survive which is a whole task in itself.
As a sleeper you are always on the brink of death, the corporation that created your synthetic self left a drawback while manufacturing you, your body is in a constant state of deterioration and only the corporation sells what you need to stay alive so you have to keep coming back for more. You need to restore your health every day and the worse the state of your body the worse dice you’re dealt at the beginning of each cycle and a bad set of dice means less choices, worse monetary opportunities and less to spend on your health so it’s a whole circle. The dice are the main theme of the game for every minor action, survival system and character related role playing you have to roll the dice, you are dealt a couple of dice at the beginning of each cycle and these dictate what your cycle looks like there are three types of dice positive, neutral or negative. Positive dice can be used for things such as filling your health bar or completing an objective, neutral dice can help you with a low level sign quest or maybe nothing would happen, negative dice could have adverse effects like losing energy, basically the higher the roll the better the chances, however lower numbers aren’t entirely useless there’s another side to using dice as well in a place called the data cloud, your conscience is free of its synth flesh and here you can hack into systems and spy on your previous owners all at the cost of a few dice.
Every day on the space station is called a cycle, you wake up in the morning with two meters rapidly running out one can be refilled with food and the other with energy, on a good day you may wake up with two great dice one average and two awful dice that’s all you have for the day so you have to spend wisely, you also need to make good fortune to carry to the next day so you need to make some money, you can start off by rolling the average dice you make a decent amount of money and head over to the infirmary to get your health pumped up, once you’re juiced up you take a look at your objectives panel let’s say you have to help someone repair a part of the ship today now if you roll positive the repair will go well if you roll neutral it’ll be fine but if you roll negative that part of the ship will crumble and float away into space and that would not be good so you use one of the good dice. You progress through the day rolling your remaining dice to complete their objectives like say planting a mushroom farm, don’t forget to get some food once in the day or you’ll starve, once the dice are all rolled you’ll go back home and end the cycle. The cycle begins again the next morning with a new set and more objectives.
Your character does not live alone on the space station, you are joined by a group of outcasts these include hackers, mercenaries, pirates, mechanics and others in similar situations, some of these characters may befriend you some might deceive you and some might just be a meaningless waste of time but interacting with them is a great experience and definitely worth the gamble, the characters are scrappy yet endearing and grow on you as you play along, how you deal with them also impacts the path your character will take through the game. While it already seems like you have a lot to do the everyday, run of cycles and intergalactic capitalism is not all there is to the game you also have to deal with a bigger more dangerous threat, the mega corp you ran away from is still hunting you and you are still on the run and fearful for your life, the life you sold and then stole so you must make enough money to survive but also avoid the corporation’s goons at every turn, the hint of danger only adds to the gameplay.
The most interesting facet of Citizen Sleeper is just how many endings it has. For an average gamer it takes 40 to 60 sleep cycles to end the game but here’s the fun part, every time you end the game you might have a different experience, the game’s endings aren’t directly related to your interactions with other characters, the objectives you complete and the dice you roll so even if you play with a friend and start at the same time you both might end up playing completely different storylines. The innovative cyberpunk is a brilliant tribute to the genre, the impressively descriptive prose builds the narrative of a post-apocalyptic capitalist society with total ease, the characters are engaging, the life is immersive and even after ending the story you will keep on playing to tie off any loose ends and while the whole idea of trying to survive intergalactic capitalism while stuck in an out-of-body experience and trying to make a new life for yourself is plenty great on its own, even the side quests are worth spending time on.
Overall, Citizen Sleeper is a masterpiece! Jump Over The Edge and Fellow Traveller has definitely outdone themselves. We highly recommend you giving this game a play.