Citizen Sleeper is a blend of visual novel and TTRPG mechanics. Play as an escaped robotic worker, called a Sleeper, as they fight for their future. This nameless worker wakes up on a lawless station called “The Eye”. Players will quickly find themselves caught between the station’s two factions, Havenage and Yatagan. There are layers of secrets and danger the Sleeper must navigate if they ever want to leave.
Players who are unfamiliar with TTRPGs may struggle with Citizen Sleeper. There are limited actions you can take each cycle, which is decided by the amount of dice players get. When these dice are out the Sleeper must end the cycle. This makes the gameplay feel like it’s going at a snail pace. Especially when the Sleeper’s condition starts to deteriorate and players get less dice. Despite being a robot, the Sleeper can “starve” which depletes their energy at double the rate and leaves them with less for the next cycle.
Citizen Sleeper also has timed events and performing actions moves the “clock” closer, whether the outcome is good or bad. One event that involves a bounty hunter sent to return Essen-arp’s property. Even this threat loses its bite as the Sleeper wanders from odd job to odd job. Not even “failing” the bounty hunter’s event appears to have a lasting consequence for the player. On the plus side, that means even if a player struggles with the action limitations, they can still progress. Keep in mind that not all events are this forgiving though. Keep the higher dice for riskier actions.
Though the game takes place on one station, it does expand. This opens up more characters to interact with. Players will also get a foraging option eventually and this brings more quests, of course, but also more chances to find scrap. Cryo, the in-game currency, will be tight and you’ll need it for nearly everything. Especially buying the medicine to keep the Sleeper’s body working. The operator class does have a chance of gaining cryo from “interface” actions. Players would be giving up the chance to regain energy through photosynthesis with the Extractor class though.
There’s a wide variety of characters players will interact with. Engineers, food vendors, hackers, and more just trying to survive. Players will learn their secrets not just through conversation, but by hacking into The Eye itself. The hacking minigame is simple. Players match their dice to the symbol, and this allows them to access each node’s information. Sometimes waiting multiple cycles until they get the right die will be required. Danger waits even within this digital world, but facing it is necessary to save everyone on the station.
Citizen Sleeper takes a little work to get your head around. Players who make it to the end are in for a tense story about a robot determined to set its own future. With a cast full of characters who have as much reason to help or hinder that goal, the plot is full of twists. Work to secure the Sleeper’s place on the Sidereal and help to uncover corporate sabotage. This game is good for fans of cyberpunk who also enjoy narrative focused games.